The GOP has also pointed out that there are many, many pipelines already crisscrossing the United States, including some that cross the Canadian border. In fact, Republicans say, Obama is the first president to deny a permit for a cross-border pipeline.
In addition, GOP lawmakers cite maps showing there are already pipelines over the Ogallala Aquifer, the giant underground water table that stretches below Nebraska and several other heartland states and is the reason environmentalists cite for opposing the Keystone project. "America either should install Keystone XL, with all of its benefits, or -- if such pipelines really are as dangerous as Democrats argue -- yank out all these pipelines that could destroy Ogallala," writes conservative commentator Deroy Murdock, who has argued strongly in favor of the pipeline.
Recently, Senate Republicans forced a vote on a proposal to approve Keystone. The final vote was 56 - 42, with 11 Democrats breaking with the president to vote in favor of the pipeline. The only reason it didn't pass was that the Democratic leadership filibustered the measure, requiring 60 votes for passage. (Liberal critics of the filibuster, so angry when Republicans used it to block Democratic measures, were uncharacteristically silent after the vote.)
If Obama has already lost 11 Democratic votes, with the election still several months away, it's likely he is going to lose more in the future. "Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the last vote that the issue would not be going away," says a Senate GOP source. "There is strong bipartisan support, and we'll have more shots at this."
In coming months, Republicans can likely count on the support of more and more Americans who are more and more angry about rising gas prices. As the general election campaign begins, Obama will face determined arguments from Republicans that in his desire to promote green energy -- Obama will hear the word "Solyndra" many, many times this fall -- he is standing in the way of making America more self-sufficient in oil and gas. It won't matter how many photo-ops he stages in front of piles of pipes. In the end, he'll have to say yes to Keystone.
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