With a second term now in hand, President Obama no longer can delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and must either side with environmentalists within his party or greenlight a major step toward North American energy independence. The pipeline decision could be an early sign for the direction of Mr. Obama’s green agenda for the next four years, after a campaign in which he sparred with Republican opponent Mitt Romney over the pipeline and on issues such as subsidies for alternative energy companies, the future of the coal industry, and drilling policy on federal lands and along the nation’s coasts.
Green-energy and environmental groups said Wednesday that they were buoyed by the president’s re-election and that they think it will kick off another chapter for clean energy in America. Mr. Obama’s previous attempt to tackle carbon emissions, the ill-fated and unpopular “cap-and-trade bill,” died in the Democrat-dominated Congress during Mr. Obama’s first two years in office, but many of the president’s supporters see his re-election as an opportunity to resurrect it. “The public stands with us from clean energy to addressing climate change. This election and our polling indicate a mandate from the American people on the environment and public health. Now is the time to act,” said Heather Taylor-Miesele, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. “The environment won, and polluting industries lost. There is no clearer way to state it,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. “The biggest winners last night are the generations yet to come as Americans overwhelmingly chose to leave them a cleaner, better world in which to live.”
Supporters and opponents of the $7 billion Keystone project wasted little time in putting pressure on the president after Tuesday’s vote. Within hours of the Democrat’s win, each side again made its case to Mr. Obama, who late last year put off a decision about the pipeline. “Americans have made their decision. Right off the bat, the president can approve the Keystone pipeline and put thousands of Americans to work immediately,” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.
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