April 1st, 2013
10:34 AM ET

Keystone fight explodes (behind the scenes)

By Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @LisaDCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story of the fight over the Keystone Pipeline, including specifics on the current pipeline proposal, in the player above.

(CNN) – Guns. Immigration. The budget. Sure. All hot issues at the moment.

But those watching Washington closely see what may be an even more intense scramble behind-the-scenes: the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline.

President Obama alone has the power to approve or reject the application for the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposal would build a 36-inch diameter oil superhighway from Canada to the southern edge of Nebraska.

The project has had an application in since last spring, but recently the president has said he will decide its fate “soon”.

Cue an intense and not necessarily intuitive fight in Washington.

Take Brad Wall, the premier of Saskatchewan, who recently flew to DC to make an environmental case for the pipeline.

 “I think that’s part of the message. I think that’s maybe how we can help give the administration some environmental elbow room to know that we do care about the issue.”

On the other side sits a highly-charged and laptop-supplied coalition of environmentalists, like Jason Kowalski, policy director of 350.org.

“We see this as opportunity to draw an line and say you cannot be a Democrat in this country and be in favor of the keystone pipeline, and get the support of the climate movement. We are going to mobilize in large numbers against you.”

This is a careful and intense push behind-the-scenes to pressure and influence the president. Pro-pipeline members of Congress have indicated they could try to pass a law overriding the president should he rule against them, and a side skirmish is evolving on Capitol Hill.

But for now, the main battle, perhaps little seen by most Americans, is focused on energy, the environment and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. taraEC

    Mr. Kowalski is making an error when he tries to make the approval of Keystone XL a Republican vs. Democrat issue. The fact is that Keystone XL currently enjoys broad, bipartisan support nationwide—as high as 70% in favor according to some polls. The American people want this project because it will create thousands of jobs, generate billions in revenue and increase American energy security by bringing in an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day.

    April 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pam

    Americans have a right to know who the oil goes to and at what price. I don't think that oil from the Alaskan pipe line goes to americans it goes on the world market for speculators to inflate the price. Now we have pipelines breaking all over the US. Sure, they may be 60 years old but do you really think that Exxon or any other large oild company is going to take any better care of a new pipe line? Maybe you need to get your head out of the clouds... It's called money and greed.

    April 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Grant

    If you have a 401k you probably own a few shares of different oil companies. I suggest you change your portfolio up prior to getting the XL pipeline shot down...

    April 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jules

    Brad Wall should take a trip to AZ to talk to them about their pipeline.

    April 2, 2013 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • tjwdj

      Or..Arkansas. He can what mess they are in right now from an oil pipeline break there. More than 12,000 barrels leaked, people removed from their homes and once again exxon involved.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • kat

      First of all get the facts. You are talking about a 60 year old American owned pipeline.

      April 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mamasrudeboy

        yea!!! and your facts are that brand new pipe lines CANNOT and will not erupt....hmmmmmmmmm...drill baby drill...

        April 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike Texoma

    I understand that the route has changed in respect of the Ogalala aquifer. i also understand that America's energy future in the short term is tied to the extraction of shale gas. So, as I see this, this particular issue is about business. If the business can be done well and safely i am for it. If it might also lead to an expansion of American refinery capacity, that is an added attraction.

    April 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CSM

    Please REJECT this pipeline proposal in favor of greater focus on rapid transit and renewable energy.

    April 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • kat

      I will continue to drive until I can't drive any longer. I did my day on the bus. Thanks anyway.

      April 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Naaaaaaa

    It will not help us at all. I think he will pass it, but it helps no one here.

    April 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    Interesting fact list Larry. Couple comments: 1) Please post source (preferably sources, hopefully including EPA surveys, etc). I've been eagerly waiting to see a 'smoking gun' on the subject of pollution. Earthquake risk is a pretty preposterous statement. Earthquakes generally occur far, far below the deepest fracturization well. 2) No argument there. 3) Your opinion. 4) Spelled Exxon, but yes. This is about 40 miles from my home... pretty ugly scene. Very sad day for the locals and wildlife. 5-7: Yeah, pretty much.

    April 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • K. Roberts

      Really, Dave; the idea of earthquakes from fracking is preposterous? Read the very recent article written about the geologists' study of the numbers of earthquakes in Okalhoma, SINCE FRACKING BEGAN there- they have increased rapidly, and it HAS been determined that they are the result of hydrofracking.

      April 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chill

    Somebody want to let Mr. Kowalski know he doesn't get to decide who is a Democrat. What does he think we are, the GOP or the Club for Dopes? Anybody who doesn't think that this oil is goign to get extracted and refined and used, is living in LaLa Land. The Canadians will simply pipe it to the Pacific and send it off to China or elsewhere in the Far East. And we're all sharing the same atmosphere. Want to do Cap and Trade? Fine. Pass a Carbon Tax; better yet. Fund alternative energy research? All for it. But thinking that we are going to cut off the use of this oil is head-in-the-sand dumb.

    April 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. boomer in Mo

    No national news organization is reporting on the condemnation lawsuits being filed on behalf of a foreign corporation to seize American farmland. Farmers are trying to fight but are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to money. Texas has almost no protections for landowners. Nebraska and Kansas are better but some farmers do not want their land destroyed by Big Oil and are fighting.

    April 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan5404

      They are reporting on that big oil spill in Arkansas, pouring thousands of gallons of oil into a rivr and actually running down the streets in one town nearby. That one is near a fresh water aquifer that serves 400,000 people. They are also not talking about the small community in the Northern part of the pipeline that had inflammable water coming out of the water pipes in their houses that were on well systems. They had no idea how long they had been drinking and bathing in it, nor the long-term health consequences. We may well see the day that water costs more than oil. Most people are not aware that there were more than 1,000 spills and illegal dumpings of hazardous waste as of last year. Fracking requires huge pits dug in the ground to hold toxic waste. Who decides if those go in your community?

      April 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan5404

        Meant to say Alabama.

        April 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chilly g

    what ever the president decide to do he has my support.

    April 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. On StreetWise

    Just like Dems and Cons, left & right... everyone thinks that water and oil won't mix. But just add in a few millions in the politic potion, and voila! "Stay thirsty, my friends...

    April 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Larry L

    Some facts: 1. The fracking producing most of the oil is consuming enormous levels of water, pollutes some water tables and increases earthquake risks. 2. The oil producted is far dirtier than that normally produced and a spill would be devastating to aquifers and streams. 3. Canada wants us to pipe the dirty oil across America's heartland because they're against polluting their own land. 4. Exon just had a pipe-line rupture in Alabama – using the same technology. 5. Global climate change is extremely real and we're ignoring the dismal future we're giving our children. 6. Most of the oil would be refined in Texas them sold on the world market – having no significant impact on U.S. prices or availability. 7. The refining process will be dirty and produce high-levels of secondary pollution.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • kat

      Larry – the reason we are sending our OIL to you is for your use not ours. Unfortunately the uninformed people in your country think it is going to Texas and then onto China. How stupid can you be? Sixty year old pipelines owned by Exxon need to be replaced – this is an American pipeline not a Canadian pipeline. 60 year old technology Larry is not the same as today. And it is not sold on the world market!! It is sold to America!!! Get the facts and stop living in a cloud.

      April 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |