Days ahead of an expected Senate vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline, the proposed TransCanada tar sands pipeline was the subject of dueling Quotes of the Day this Sunday. The first is from TransCanada CEO Russ Girling, who was interviewed by This Week's Martha Raddatz on the future of his company's project. Raddatz confronted Girling with some of President Obama's objections to the project, including that the oil from the pipeline would be sold on the global market, and not have an appreciable effect on American oil supply. Girling attempted some sleight-of-hand, telling Raddatz that all of the oil would be " delivered to" and "used" in the Gulf region (by refineries, before being sold on the global market), before Raddatz also challenged him on the jobs claims that have been made about Keystone:
RADDATZ: There are others who say the jobs will not be so great, going as low as 4,000 jobs. And that the jobs will only be here for a couple of years. The State Department, you mentioned the State Department, says that once the proposed project enters service, operations will require approximately 50 total employees in the U.S.
GIRLING: Yeah, the State Department report details every type of job. And, yes, the actual operating jobs are about 50. But that doesn't include all the other jobs that come with it.
Girling's claim that the 42,000 indirect jobs are "ongoing" is incorrect, that figure includes temporary and indirect jobs that will be supported during construction, including jobs that already exist. But Girling bottom-lined the project really well there, the "actual operational jobs" that this pipeline will create is 50, which is still more than enough to qualify it as a Republican "jobs" bill. If the media can loudly misconstrue "You didn't build that," then they ought to be able to make this legitimate quote equally famous.
Unfortunately for opponents of Keystone, the other Quote of the Day is from President Obama, who took questions at a press conference to close the G20 Summit in Brisbane on Sunday. When Reuters' Matt Spetalnick asked Obama if he would veto the pipeline, the President again ran through some of his objections, insisting that the State Department process be allowed too play out, but conspicuously not saying whether or not he would veto the bill if the Senate passed it. That's when Spetalnick pressed him on that point, I've goosed the audio a little so you can hear what he says:
Matt Spetalnick: All of your comments on the pipeline, both here and in Burma, have been...
President Obama: Matt, yeah, I gotta move on, man, everybody wants to go home. Other people have questions.
Yes, and Spetalnick had a question too, one that he didn't get answered. The President's answer sounds like a veto threat, but he has, as that Reuters reporter was trying to point out, passed up on several opportunities to explicitly make that threat.
Only time will tell, but I think the President's refusal to explicitly threaten a veto is just an attempt to add a little bit of value to Mary Landrieu's Keystone Hail Mary pass at keeping her seat. It wouldn't surprise me if the Senate passes this bill, and it sits on the President's desk until the day after Landrieu's runoff.
Here is full video of President Obama's Brisbane presser: