The State Department’s unveiling of its final environmental study of the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday brought aftershocks through the weekend.
Bloomberg reports that big Canadian oil sands producers don’t need the proposed pipeline as badly as they did when TransCanada began seeking permits a half decade ago.
Sure, producers are happy with State’s report, which mostly upheld a 2013 draft finding that Keystone isn’t a planet-cooker, Bloomberg notes. But the oil companies say the final U.S. decision on a permit, whenever that arrives, isn’t make-or-break.
“Canadian producers welcomed the positive step, while emphasizing that their options for transporting crude are widening,” states the Bloomberg piece that’s headlined “Keystone Ardor Cools Among Producers With More Options.”
White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, appearing on Sunday talk shows, emphasized that State’s report is just one part of the federal review. He offered no timeline for a final decision.
“What the president’s role is now is to protect this process from politics, let the expert agencies and the Cabinet secretaries make their assessments both of the study that was put on Friday as well as its impact on the national interest. So we’ll resolve that over the coming period of time,” McDonough said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
McDonough said more or less the same thing on NBC’s Meet the Press.
The report puts new pressure on President Obama to green-light Keystone, but as National Journal reported Friday, the White House is leaving its options open.
The study, to be sure, was good news for advocates of Keystone, a project that would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day across the border en route to Gulf Coast refineries.
Billionaire anti-Keystone activist Tom Steyer, in a letter to John Kerry on Sunday, urged the secretary of State to launch an “independent and transparent” review of State’s final environmental analysis.
Steyer and other environmentalists argue that Keystone is a linchpin for expansion of carbon-intensive oil sands development. State’s review basically contradicted that claim, although it also examined alternative market scenarios in which Keystone is indeed important for getting oil sands crude out of Alberta.
Elsewhere, Reuters looks at a separate part of the 11-volume report. “Replacing the Keystone XL pipeline with oil-laden freight trains from Canada may result in an average of six additional rail-related deaths per year,” Reuters reports in summarizing one of the findings.
National Journal has more here on the next steps in the federal review.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."