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Keystone Oil Pipeline: The Start of the Veto Era?

March 16, 2015

Eliza Meneghin ’16 – Inside Politics Program

On February 24th, President Obama vetoed the bill to approve construction on the controversial Keystone oil pipeline. This marks the third time President Obama has used this power in his presidency, and the first time since October of 2010. The pipeline, which would carry oil across national borders from the Canadian oil sands to refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast, has been shaped into a larger political issue focusing on partisan politics, energy, and the economy. The GOP sees the pipeline as their number one priority and claims that the pipeline will create many needed American jobs. However, environmentalists argue that the larger environmental effects of the pipeline have not been sufficiently studied and the construction will lead to damaging climate change.

Environmentalists are hopeful that this veto indicates that President Obama will reject the overall construction of the pipeline and finally fufill the promises that he made in 2008 in regards to climate change. On the other hand, Republicans have declared that they will challenge the veto and will not give up supporting the pipeline. However, the two-thirds vote needed from congress to pass the bill is likely to receive insurmountable pushback from the Democrats, unless moderate members of the Democrat party can be convinced to vote for the pipeline.

It is believed that this veto by the President will be the first of many future veto’s that represents the “veto era” of Obama’s presidency that will ultimately shape his legacy in the last years of his presidency. Furthermore, the final decision made will rest on the environmental reports presented in the upcoming weeks. With this pending decision, both protesters and proponents alike have increased their presence in Washington. Additionally, individuals that are strongly against the Presidents decision to veto a bipartisan bill, such as Reince Priebus, chairmen of the Republican National Committee, declared that Obama is “out of step…with the priorities of the American people, who overwhelmingly support this vital jobs and infrastructure project” [1]. Ultimately, the decision is solely that of President Obama and whatever the outcome, it will undoubtedly be marked as a major controversial point of his presidency.


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