Philip Bump notes that Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline carries little downside.
“Republicans would have hammered Obama for the excessive delay in approval, had the president decided to approve the pipeline’s permit. There’s a wide seam of partisanship that runs through climate change as a political topic, which is readily apparent in polling on the subject. Republicans aren’t going to dislike Obama more after this decision, which most people saw coming anyway. But he gets to define himself and his party on a subject that could become enormously important over the coming decades.”
“While rejecting Keystone XL doesn’t solve the problem of climate change — and while Transcanada could try again with the next president — approving it wouldn’t have necessarily doomed the planet, either. The formal decision to reject the pipeline is best seen as political in the broadest sense: A statement from the president of the United States that climate change is a serious factor in its decision-making process. Since the issue of climate change became a critical one, it’s a statement that has nearly been unheard in Washington. And Barack Obama would appreciate if you remembered who said it.”