Keystone is at best marginally relevant to the cause of stopping global warming. The whole crusade increasingly looks like a bizarre misallocation of political attention.
My view, which I laid out in a long feature story last spring, is that the central environmental issue of Obama’s presidency is not Keystone at all but using the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate existing power plants. That’s a tool Obama has that can bring American greenhouse gas emissions in line with international standards, and thus open the door to lead an international climate treaty in 2015. The amount of carbon emissions at stake in the EPA fight dwarf the stakes of the Keystone decision.
This is bizarre. The Obama administration has already committed to having the EPA regulate new and exiting power plants (starting with the easier and less controversial situation re new plants). Chait is asking the environmental movement to focus its attention on a battle that, for the time-being at least, they seem to have already won. What is the point of that? Why not look for new victories? Why not aim and for Keystone dead AND coal regulated into obsolescence?