Bill McKibben on Why Obama Wants to Approve Keystone

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On Tuesday, the White House said President Obama would veto a bill authorizing construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

As Congress got back to work, Republicans made it clear that approving the pipeline — which would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast for export to overseas markets — is top of their agenda.

In November, President Obama made his strongest statement against the project when he said the pipeline “doesn’t have an impact on US gas prices” and would not do much for jobs, as Republicans claim it will.

For a variety of reasons, the president’s veto threat does not mean that Keystone will be a no-go. Obama has said he will not make a decision on the pipeline until the State Department completes an environmental review. That can’t happen until a verdict comes through in a Nebraska court case over the pipeline’s route. Depending on the outcome of that case, the environmental review and/or whether Obama changes his mind, the “final decision could be pushed well into 2016 or beyond,” writes The New York Times.

And then there’s this: Obama is beholden to Big Oil. In an interview with Bill Moyers last year, environmental activist Bill McKibben talked about why the president would want to approve the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, even though he is in theory “a good environmentalist.”

Like so many issues in politics today, McKibben says the answer basically comes down to money and power. “The American Petroleum Institute told the president two years ago, ‘you do what we say on Keystone or there’ll be political trouble,'” McKibben tells Moyers. “We’ll find out how scared he was.”

Watch the clip:

See Bill’s full interview with McKibben.

Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for BillMoyers.com, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women’s entrepreneurship.

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