Republican Senate candidates spent much of their time on the stump in 2014 vowing to fast-track construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as soon as they were elected — as did moderate Democratic senators who hoped supporting the pipeline would save their career. The new GOP majority in Congress followed through this year, but the pipeline is still not a sure thing after President Obama vetoed the legislation on Tuesday, to the surprise of no one in Washington. It was only the president’s third veto, which makes him the least veto-happy leader in recent history.
The State Department is still conducting a review of the pipeline, which would go from Texas to Canada if completed, and Obama believes that any action on the politically fraught project’s future should be delayed until the review is completed — and had previously promised to veto any legislation that shortened the State Department’s studies. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today that it was possible the president would approve action on Keystone at a later date, after the full ramifications of the project are understood. Republican congressional leaders have unsurprisingly responded to the unsurprising veto by calling it a political stunt, while environmental groups — who have helped turn the pipeline’s construction into a symbolic fight pushing government to go green —have applauded the move.