Obama set to okay pipeline, former insider says, as poll shows support – by John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail – April 22, 2013)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Barack Obama will almost certainly approve the Keystone XL pipeline, predicts a former senior figure in the State Department who recently brought that message to Ottawa.

“I would say the chances are about four-to-one” in favour of the President approving the pipeline from Alberta to American refineries, said David Gordon. He was director of policy planning when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state, and is currently head of research at the respected consulting firm Eurasia Group.

Domestic political considerations – including a close fight with Republicans for control of the House of Representatives – make approval virtually inevitable, Mr. Gordon said in an interview.

A new poll obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that fully 63 per cent of Americans said that energy security was a higher priority for them than reducing greenhouse gases, while only 30 per cent felt the opposite.

And 70 per cent of Americans had a positive or somewhat positive view of the Keystone XL proposal, said the survey by Nik Nanos who conducted the research at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Nonetheless, spooked by President Barack Obama’s veto of the pipeline when it was first proposed, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is back in Washington this week, the latest in a parade of federal and provincial politicians visiting the American capital to push for Keystone 2.0.

“What strikes us is the degree to which Canadian government officials are much less certain of the outcome than we are,” Mr. Gordon observed with a bit of a chuckle.

“I would really be surprised if this didn’t happen,” he said.

Times have changed, the route has changed, and the political landscape has changed since Mr. Obama rejected Keystone 1.0. Democrats are convinced they have a shot at winning control of the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term elections.

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