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Gazing Into the Keystone Crystal Ball

Gazing Into the Keystone Crystal Ball

HOUSTON—David Goldwyn, a top State Department energy official when Hillary Clinton led the agency, believes the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline is en route to President Obama's approval.

 

Speaking at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference here, Goldwyn noted he's not an unbiased observer—he thinks Keystone is a good idea. Goldwyn, who was State's special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs until 2011, pointed to the department's recent environmental analysis that concluded the project would have little effect on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Add what he called energy security, trade, and other benefits, and Goldwyn believes it would be very tough for the Obama administration to conclude that Keystone is not in the national interest. "I think it is very hard to say no. I think the president will say yes," he said.

Goldwyn also noted that if Obama rejected Keystone in the next few months, it could hurt a quartet of Senate Democrats facing close races: Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, and Mark Begich. But even if the decision is delayed past the elections, he thinks Keystone will eventually be permitted.

 

"[Obama] could conceivably go the other way, but I think the answer will be yes," predicts Goldwyn, now an energy consultant.

Ben Geman
@ben_geman
bgeman@nationaljournal.com


P.S. Will Congress support Obama's Climate Resilience Fund? Take the National Journal Energy Poll.

TOP ENERGY NEWS

By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

LESS CANADIAN OIL REACHING GULF COAST THAN EXPECTED. Rail deliveries of oil-sands crude to the Gulf Coast last year were well below State Department forecasts, Reuters reports in a story that says the data could affect the Keystone XL pipeline battle.

 
  • Our take: The data could be a weapon for Keystone XL pipeline opponents who say oil sands production—and the carbon emissions that come with it—will be stymied unless the project is built. But time is running out to influence State's review.

KEYSTONE PIPELINE REVIEW CONTRACTOR DEFENDS INDEPENDENCE. The consulting firm that crafted the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline is defending the company's independence amid green-group allegations that its work was hobbled by conflicts of interest.

OBAMA WAVES VETO PEN AT HOUSE BILL TO KILL CLIMATE RULES. The White House is threatening to veto legislation coming to the House floor this week that would block upcoming carbon-emissions standards for power plants.

ARE CRUDE EXPORTS A MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY? House Speaker John Boehner is joining conservative calls for the U.S. to loosen export restrictions as a way to undercut Russia's political power.

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CONGRESS DESIGNATES LAND FOR CONSERVATION. The House granted wilderness protection for several thousand acres of land along the Michigan coast. The Senate approved the same tract of land for protection last June.

JAPAN MAKES CLEAN ENERGY PUSH. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the country would tap "all necessary policies" to get more renewables onto the grid.

GLOBAL WARMING THREATENS GUACAMOLE. Chipotle said that climate is putting their supply of avocados at risk.

COAL PRODUCER SLAPPED WITH MAJOR FINE. A A federal court will require one of the country's largest coal producers to pay a fine of $27.5 million after it released contaminants into waterways in five Appalachian states.

SOLAR DEMAND SURGED LAST YEAR. In 2013, domestic demand for solar energy jumped by 41 percent.

YOUR TAKE…

NATIONAL JOURNAL ENERGY POLL: Will Congress support President Obama's proposal for a $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund in the 2015 budget?

A) Yes, even Republicans skeptical about climate change have districts affected by extreme weather

B) Yes, but only after cutting the amount of money for the fund

C) No, but some type of program to address extreme weather will be proposed by Republicans

D) No, the president's proposal is dead on arrival

click here to respond

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING…

CAN CONGRESS PASS ENERGY-EFFICIENCY? Is there enough political will to carry energy-efficiency across the finish line? And what's at stake—politically, economically, and environmentally—if energy efficiency gets stuck in the mud?

"In the overheated Capitol Hill politics, even energy efficiency is controversial. The bipartisan team of Senators Shaheen and Portman unfortunately face considerable hurdles in their common sense efforts to advance focused energy efficiency legislation…. Good energy efficiency policies are a win-win-win for business growth, consumer savings and environmental pollution reduction." -Howard A. Learner, executive director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders

HAPPENING TOMORROW

FUEL SUPPLY HEARING. The House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee holds a hearing entitled "Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure."

RAIL HEARING. The Senate Commerce Committee's Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee holds a hearing entitled "Enhancing our Rail Safety: Current Challenges for Passenger and Freight Rail."

CHEMICAL SAFETY HEARING. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing entitled "Preventing Potential Chemical Threats and Improving Safety: Oversight of the President's Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security."

FEDERAL LANDS HEARING. The House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee holds a hearing on four bills.

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