The pipeline has handed the environmental movement a potent organizing tool. Even if the project goes through, the movement will gain steam, said Eddie Scher, senior communications strategist for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil Campaign. “Keystone XL is the front line in the fight over climate disruption,” he said, because it “is very tangible” and “has very local impacts in the places where the pipeline will run.”
The pipeline’s potential political fallout isn’t lost on the American Petroleum Institute, which has promoted the project as a jobs generator and is in the midst of a Washington-area print ad campaign delivering the message: “We Need it Now! Keystone XL is More than a Pipeline. It’s a Lifeline.”
“We are somewhat concerned in the broader scheme ... if this is the way that we are going to have to deal with every infrastructure project,” API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin said. Obama sent mixed signals about the pipeline in a meeting with House Republicans last week and is expected to decide on the fate of the project by late summer.
“We’ve seen a fairly straightforward infrastructure proposal become a symbolic flash point,” said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “And it’s easy to see why. It’s a tangible project, where the president alone can make an up-or-down decision.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.