TransCanada and its allies have reached the “begging” stage of their lobbying for the Keystone XL pipeline. (The preceding stage was “obfuscation”; the final stage is “giving up and moving to space.”)
This morning, the CEO of the company met with a key State Department official. From The Hill:
CEO Russ Girling is scheduled to meet in the afternoon with Kerri-Ann Jones, who is the department’s assistant secretary for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs. …
Secretary of State John Kerry, at his recent Senate confirmation hearing, kept his cards close to the vest when asked about his views on the pipeline.
Girling told Bloomberg Wednesday that he expects the project will be approved “very soon” and that he suspects “we’re looking at anything from a few weeks to a couple of months.”
The mention of Kerry there is important. It’s a reminder that Jones isn’t the decision-maker. And that Kerry’s not either. Ultimately, approval comes down to the president, who I suspect won’t spend a lot of time reviewing Jones’ notes from this meeting. And what’s Girling going to say in this confab anyway? “Hey, come on. Pleeeeeease? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease?” It’s not a great argument, but at this point it’s probably the best he’s got.
Meanwhile, some of Girling’s friends are blustering about the pipeline over on Capitol Hill. Again from The Hill, which is going wall-to-wall on the issue:
All 25 Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in a Thursday letter to President Obama.
“Our economy can no longer be put on hold while the bureaucratic process you set in motion jeopardizes this critical project. You can guarantee Americans the jobs they deserve, and prevent our national security from being undermined, with a simple stroke of the pen. We urge you to do so now,” the lawmakers wrote.
Yes, Mr. President! Take our economy off hold! You know how every time you go to the grocery store or try to buy something online, you get that message that says, “I’m sorry, your transaction cannot be completed because the President has halted all economic activity”? That’s because of the pipeline.
What’s interesting about this situation — and what’s probably fun for the president — is that the tables have turned. This time, it’s Congress that’s ineffectually calling for something to happen while Obama holds all the cards.
Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t expect a decision before June: Obama’s savoring it.