President Barack Obama appears to be leaning towards approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, although he did not broach the subject directly at a Wednesday night meeting with top donors at the San Francisco home of hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who staunchly opposes the project.
Instead, the president focused his remarks to the Democratic crowd on how tough it can be to sell the idea of more strict and more expensive environmental regulations at a time when so many Americans are financially strapped, according to The New York Times
“You may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your No. 1 concern,” the president said, adding: “And if people think, well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by.”
The meeting was one of four events scheduled over two days in Northern California, marking Obama's first fund-raising drive for the Democrats ahead of midterm elections next year.
Obama faces pressure on the pipeline from all sides. Republicans and some Democrats argue that Keystone will create jobs and lower the cost of fuel, while opponents see it as a potential environmental hazard.
At another gathering in California, the president said the political debate needs to “break out of this notion that somehow there’s a contraction between us being good stewards of the environment and us growing this economy.”
“They are not a contradiction,” he continued. “We can grow this economy fast and faster if we are seizing the opportunities of the future and not just looking at the energy sources of the past.”
The State Department, which has jurisdiction over the Keystone project because it crosses international borders with Canada, will hold a public hearing on an environmental impact statement on April 18 in Nebraska. The pipeline would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast for refining. The review process for the project is expected to continue into the summer.
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