President Barack Obama's decision to reject TransCanada's application to build the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline is not a permanent win for landowners, environmentalists, Native American activists, and Great Plains water-drinkers. "This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline," says the President, "but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people." President Obama still carefully avoids endorsing the arguments that Keystone XL will threaten our land and aquifers, raise our gasoline prices, and ship its oil to China. Those arguments remain ours to make.
The President is, however, playing some tough poker with Republicans. He makes clear that his rejection of the Keystone XL permit results entirely from the Republican games-playing in Congress, as they held the payroll tax extension hostage last month to force the State Department to rush its review process. The Obama Administration said before that vote that a 60-day deadline would likely kill the permit. But Republicans thought the President would be too scared of the Big-Oil campaign rhetoric they could throw at him: "Keystone XL means jobs! Cheap oil! Energy independence!"
The President knows those three aces are bogus. The Republicans thought the President would play like a man holding a pair of deuces. By dropping the Keystone XL permit, the President is playing like a man with a hand full of diamonds.
So Republicans got hammered for voting to raise taxes on everybody for Christmas, and didn't even get swift approval of Keystone XL out of the deal. Republicans, you just got flushed.
Bonus Loser's Hyperbole: Rep. Kristi Noem's reaction to having her bluff called? Lie bigger! Noem tweets that Keystone XL would create 130,000 jobs, 6.5 times more than the already exaggerated 20,000-job claim made by TransCanada.