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Countdown to a thumbs-down on Keystone XL (we hope!)

Wait a minute! Hang on! Didn't we celebrate that President Obama announced that the Keystone XL permit decision (whether or not approve TransCanada's application to build a mega pipeline to transport dirty tar sands oil from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico) was off the agenda until 2013? Yes, we did. BUT then the payroll tax cut extension came up for consideration in Congress and outraged Republicans decided to attach legislation forcing President Obama to approve or deny Keystone XL in 60 days. This happened on December 23. Happy Holidays climate change, environmental destruction and indigenous rights.

Since then, advocates for Keystone XL in the U.S. have put the full court press on President Obama -- pressuring, lobbying, tweeting, blogging, placing ads and demanding Obama's approval:

TransCanada can't stop talking about all the jobs they want to create for Americans if Keystone XL is approved. (The Center for Economic and Policy Research's economist Dean Baker debunked these numbers on Jan 2.)

On Jan 4, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched a "countdown clock" asking, "Will President Obama choose jobs and energy security for America?" If you are not great at math, like me, the clock is kind of handy.

Lobbyists for the oil industry -- The American Petroleum Institute -- launched ads on Jan 11. Ah, lobbyists.

House Speaker John Boehner blogged on Jan 13 asking what you'd decide if you were president, and is asking for feedback: "Let Speaker Boehner know in the comments section … on Google+, on Twitter using the #KXL hash tag, and on Facebook by answering our Question here." Take action, friends!

So, while all this is going on, the countdown to a thumbs-down is on. Obamas spent 22 days, 21 hours and 52 minutes (of his 60 days) from the time this blog is posted. In December, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted that the countdown "simply shortens  the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved." Today, Business Week quoted Mike McKenna, an oil-industry lobbyist and president of MWR Strategies Inc. in Washington, saying, "The president is going to say no. The only recourse the Republicans have is to make it painful, politically, for him."

Months ago Maude Barlow recounted a conversation that she had with a taxi driver in D.C. on her way to participate in the days of protest to stop Keystone XL this summer. She asked the man what Obama should decide on the pipeline. He said that Obama is in a tough place, if he approves the project he'll anger his supporters who elected him but if he denies it, he'll anger the big corporations pressuring for approval. Maude agreed and then asked him again what he though that Obama should do. The driver responded, "If Obama can't please everyone, then he should do the right thing and deny the pipeline."

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