Early in the 2012 election cycle, the American Petroleum Institute warned that opposition to Keystone XL would bear huge political consequences. Pro-Keystone candidates and their supporters spent $11 million on campaign ads in 18 races. They lost all of them. Every senator who cast a vote against Keystone XL was reelected.
In this first-ever national debate over a pipeline, the arguments are getting heated. So maybe it's a good time to take a couple of steps back to remind ourselves why we care. Just why is this pipeline such a big deal? That question has several answers, but they start with this: It's not about the pipe. It's about what the pipe would carry.
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.