President Obama has vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. The White House says the move is not a judgment on the pipeline’s merits, but a bid to see through a State Department review that will determine whether the project is in the national interest. Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have warned against further development of the tar sands oil fields in Canada. In 2011, NASA climate scientist James Hansen said approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be “game over” for the Earth’s climate. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said: “After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil. … Now, it’s time for the president to show he’s serious about his climate legacy by moving on to step two: rejecting this pipeline once and for all.” We discuss the politics of the pipeline with Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Barack Obama has vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Obama said the congressional measure unwisely bypassed a State Department process that will determine whether the project would be beneficial to the United States. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the veto should not be interpreted as the administration’s opposition to the actual pipeline.
PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: The reason the president will veto this legislation that has passed the Congress is that it circumvents a long-standing administrative process for evaluating whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country. And it does not represent a specific position on the pipeline itself.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced the Republican-led chamber will attempt to override Obama’s veto, but he does not appear to have enough votes. Opponents of the Keystone pipeline have warned against further development of the tar sands in Canada. In 2011, NASA climate scientist James Hansen said Obama’s approval of the pipeline would be, quote, “game over” for the Earth’s climate. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org said Tuesday, quote, “After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil. … Now, it’s time for the president to show he’s serious about his climate legacy by moving on to step two: rejecting this pipeline once and for all.”
AMY GOODMAN: The debate over Keystone comes at a time when much of the country is experiencing extreme weather, from record cold from Alabama to Maine to historic droughts in California and other parts of the West.
Joining us now in Washington, D.C., is Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, formerly with Greenpeace. Davies was in the news this week after he obtained documents that revealed one of the nation’s most prominent scientists involved in denying climate change has failed to disclose his extensive funding from the fossil fuel industry. We’ll talk about that in a moment, but first to Keystone.
Kert Davies, your response to the veto, but the fact that it does not mean Keystone is over?
KERT DAVIES: Great to be here. Yeah, I mean, this fight is long from over, but the president clearly has enough information to just cancel this project. This vote—this bill that was sent to the president yesterday is a charade. It is, if anything, an indication of the power of the oil industry over this country, the fact that Senate bill number one, the very first order of business when the Republicans took over the Senate, was an oil pipeline for a foreign oil company to get through our country. Our country is an obstacle for this company to get their oil to international markets. And that was the first priority of our Congress when they came back from that victorious election. That’s the first thing you need to realize.
So the president needs to cancel the project. They’re going through the bureaucratic process of letting the State Department, you know, review it and everything, but we need to stop listening to the oil companies and do what’s right for this country and what’s right for the climate. The pipeline is an accelerant for climate change. If the president is consistent with his climate pledge, he will not approve this pipeline.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Kert, about this State Department study, we’re talking about what’s been going on about six years now—I mean, an environmental impact. Why do they say it’s taking so long?
KERT DAVIES: They’re not very good at it. Basically, they’re not used to doing environmental impact statements. They’ve blown it a couple times and had to redo it. You know, basically, there’s now a Department of Energy within the State Department to try to expedite things on energy as a geopolitical weapon. But the real matter here is that we don’t need this. It basically makes the pipe—the Keystone makes the tar sands oil more available to markets. It absolutely is a bad thing for the climate. And if the EPA weighs in and does the right thing and says this will increase greenhouse gas emissions, the president said several years ago, if it does that, we shouldn’t approve the pipeline. And it clearly does increase global warming.