Photo by Anne Sherwood for The New York Times. Dawson County Montana–one of the areas through which the proposed Keystone Pipeline XL would pass if approved.
The Keystone Pipeline XL may be a key to unlocking the next cement door put up by the GOP to meeting fiscal deadlines, the New York Times reported. The Republican Party will likely seek approval of the pipeline in the discussion to raise the national debt ceiling, which has an Oct.-17 deadline, rather than in debates pertaining to the missed Oct. 1 budget deadline that defunded the U.S. government and brought the government into its second day of the shutdown. Tying the pipeline to the debt ceiling could have a significant impact on landowners’ rights as TransCanada, the pipeline builders, try to attain land for the project, which will bring into question the eminent domain rights of the company as a “public” utility as well as any resulting condemnation claims.
House of Representative member Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) said to the NYT that the Republicans feel the debt ceiling debate may be their “only option” in seeing the pipeline come to fruition, and his opinion may not be far from the truth considering President Obama’s more aggressive approach toward preventing climate change in his second term. The pipeline crosses an international border and needs approval from the Obama administration in order to continue, and the President has ordered an internal review to consider the potential environmental risks the Keystone Pipeline XL may impose. A decision on the pipeline from the President without interference from Congress could come in early 2014, but a Republican-led, last-ditch effort to guarantee the pipeline’s completion may change that timeline.
President Obama stated that he has little patience for any provisions on the upcoming debt ceiling bill, and considering the lack of bipartisanship that has become a trademark of about the last 4 years of U.S. politics, another looming budget battle about the national debt ceiling, and, therefore, the Keystone Pipeline, likely awaits the Congress currently tied up on approving a national budget.
This battle will most likely not carry the same momentum as the current budget debates simply because it follows the budget deadline that resulted in defunding the U.S. government, a move not well received or likely to be repeated within the same term. But, nothing is certain, especially the future of the Keystone Pipeline XL.
Supporters of the pipeline argue that it would help decrease the United States’ dependency on the Middle East for oil and create more jobs within the nation, while opponents fear the carbon emissions that would result from such a large build.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-government organization that often lobbies for greater environmental protection for endangered species, recently released a study about the potential damage the pipeline will cause on habitats it crosses, according to Al Jazeera America on Sept. 29. Al Jazeera America also reported that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sponsored by the United Nations, released a report linking global warming to “human carbon dioxide output from fossil fuels, including carbon-rich tar sands oil like that which the Keystone pipeline is designed to transport.”
The Pew Research Center reported that about two-thirds of Americans support the pipeline, but the same margin of Americans also opposes great carbon emissions. Waiting for the Obama administration’s report on the Keystone Pipeline XL could lead to a well-informed decision that considers all different arguments for and against the pipeline, but forcibly linking that decision to the debt ceiling may rush an important decision on an issue that is clearly more grey than black or white.
The decision to link the pipeline to the Oct. 17 deadline might change considering the potential political ramifications that will result from the current government’s continued failure to pass a budget — a move not boding well for Republicans in office as their constituents begin to feel the effects of a government shutdown domestically and abroad.
Coauthored by Justin Hodge and Ayla Syed.