Although he has struggled with the paradox of reducing carbon pollution while promoting a dirty "all of the above" energy policy, Obama already has more than enough evidence to reject this pipeline based solely on its effect on climate disruption. But even though this debate has centered on climate, that is only part of what's at stake.
Earlier this week West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the following about whether people should be drinking the water in Charleston and downstream: "It's your decision. ... I'm not a scientist." For the 300,000 people affected by the coal chemical spill from two weeks ago, I bet that's very reassuring.
Although it would be wonderful if Congress were to come to its senses anytime soon, chances of that are slim. If we want any real progress on protecting public lands, then our best hope is the executive branch. And in fact, there's reason to be optimistic that the Obama administration might deliver.