Rapid climate change sparks tornados and floods, battering the world and throwing Americans into a new era of fear.
That’s the apocalyptic premise of the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow. In reality, climate change is a more distant threat—and it’s all about the day after Tuesday, when Republicans woke up to firm control of both houses of Congress. The environment could again be on the agenda. As with on tax reform and trade agreements, Republicans feel there’s a chance for agreement with President Obama on the Keystone XL pipeline: John Boehner and Mitch McConnell specifically called for its construction in a Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday.
The northern leg of the pipeline, which would carry more than 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-heavy crude from Alberta’s oil sands to Nebraska (before it heads for the Gulf Coast), has been held up for years by political and environmental concerns. Because it would cross the border from Canada, the pipeline requires a permit from the State Department. The energy company TransCanada first applied for a permit in 2008; in 2012, before the elections and after Congress set a tight deadline, Obama rejected the $8 billion project. But TransCanada reworked the application and the State Department completed its environmental review. Technically, Secretary of State John Kerry will make the call as to whether the pipeline is in the “national interest,” and Obama says it’s an “independent process” that he’s going to allow to play out, but it’s hard to imagine President Obama not having the final say on an issue of such political and policy significance.