Well, that answers the question of “Will he or won’t he?”
After publicly stating that he would veto any KXL bill that hit his desk, on Tuesday President Obama went and did just that. In his memo to the Congress, the President gives his reason for nixing their legislation – and it has nothing to do with climate change or the environment:
“Through this bill,” Obama writes, “the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.”
The “longstanding and proven processes” he refers to include a State Department review (which has, admittedly, been pending for quite some time) that will assess whether or not an oil sands pipeline is actually what America needs. In its market analysis, the State Department noted that if oil prices drop below $75 per barrel, “higher transportation costs could have a substantial impact on oil sands production levels – possibly in excess of the capacity of the proposed [pipeline].”
Oil prices have since hit $50/bbl.
Strangely enough, Obama has a kindred spirit among the GOP. The circumvention of the State Department’s review in the name of expediency is the same reason Congressman Justin Amash was the only Republican to vote “no” on KXL.
Amash is actually for the pipeline, but he is also adamant that long-standing review processes be honored in order for government to function correctly. That it has taken six years for KXL legislation to actually reach the President’s desk is the real issue, he has said, but Congress is not considered with remedying that failing. Amash has previously stated that it is wrong “for Congress to write a bill that names and benefits one private project, while doing nothing to address the underlying problems that allowed such delays to occur.”
This veto is only the third of Obama’s presidency. However, after the mid-term elections last year, he told NPR that he will likely have call to use his vetoes more often in the coming years. Republicans have vowed to rollback his environmental, healthcare and immigration initiatives, and Obama has said he intends to match them blow for blow.
It is unlikely that Republicans will muster the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto. As Senator Jim Inhofe said in an interview, “He’s looking at this as showing he still can be king of the hill, because we don’t have the votes to override.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the veto a “national embarrassment.” (It’s worth noting the $7.6 billion pipeline would have created about 50 long-standing jobs.)