Obama has announced that the buck on Keystone XL will stop with him. This image is kind of wishful thinking — it's nice to imagine that Obama will just slice through all the conflict-of-interest BS that's currently going down with TransCanada and the State Department, but the likelihood is that this will not end well. Still, at least then we'll have a single person to blame.
You have to wonder whether the announcement is an attempt to do an end run around congressmembers' assertion that the State Department's evaluation is tainted and untrustworthy. Obama's still basing his decision on State reports; he's just going to be the one who publicly makes the final call. That's not going to satisfy a lot of people who think the State-commissioned environmental analysis, which was carried out by a TransCanada-affiliated firm, is fundamentally flawed.
But it's not clear yet how this will shake out. A League of Conservation Voters spokeswoman said she was "encouraged" by the decision. But the American Petroleum Institute said the same thing.