Fulfilling his promise, President Obama has vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline. It is unlikely that Congress will be able to override the veto, because the two-thirds majority needed is nonexistent.
The veto trend is likely to be a staple of the remaining not-quite two years of the Obama presidency. With Republicans controlling both the Senate and the House, bills passed without substantial bipartisan support will probably be rejected.
It is clear that the arguments for both sides of the XL pipeline debate have not resulted in conclusions that are clear to the public. The State Department’s report from last year investigating the XL pipeline documented what effects it could have on job creation and the environment. The department’s findings were interpreted by both parties by spinning to their political ideology.
Both Democrats and Republicans argued over how many jobs the pipeline would actually generate. The State Department detailed that creation of the pipeline would create up to 42,100 temporary jobs. Republicans latched onto this number and cited job creation as a fundamental benefit of the pipeline.
Democrats have debated the longevity of the potential jobs. The report said most of the jobs would be affiliated with the construction of the pipeline, meaning that they were temporary. After the pipeline is finished, those jobs will be gone. In fact, if you look at the wording in the report, after the construction is finished, only 35 permanent jobs will be created.
Another point of debate in the pipeline is environmental. Republicans were elated to find that the official report stated that the proposed pipeline “would not significantly increase the rate of planet-warming pollution.” But environmentalists and Democrats both disagreed with the distinction of the word “significantly.”
There may be other factors the report didn’t take into account. Potential pollution from tar-sands oil, deforestation, water waste, and the potential for massive oil spills are all things to consider. It is unknown the environmental effect the pipeline will have in five to 10 years. By then, it could be too late.
After job and environment concerns, there is still one last thing to consider: alternative energy. Obama recently agreed to an international carbon-emissions pact with China to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. The U.S.’s intention to decrease its negative effect on global climate change seem disingenuous if it opts to invest in oil production.
The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes the veto of Keystone XL signals a new direction in domestic-energy production. What is being overlooked in the partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats is that we are at a pivotal time developing energy sources. The commitment to devoting capital to alternative-energy solutions such as solar power and wind power is threatened when obligations are made to archaic energy sources, and hopefully, this veto can start a new conversation on alternative energy.