The atmospheric pressure is dropping in D.C. as the hurricane prepares to move through. But in front of the White House, where protestors are pushing Obama to nix the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, the pressure has probably just ratcheted up. The State Department just released a report saying that the pipeline would have "minimal" environmental effects, which is a big step toward approving its construction. Thanks a lot, State Department.
This definitely isn't the last word on the subject. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doesn't have to weigh in on the pipeline until the end of the year, and the project can't move forward until the administration deems it to be in the "national interest." The State Department's report is subject to public comment and public meetings until Oct. 9, and other federal agencies including the EPA will get a chance to have their say as well. But the EPA has already put in its two cents — the agency sent the State Department a letter about the pipeline's potential disastrous effects — and apparently that didn't make much of a difference.