Obama Under Pressure After Nebraska Governor Signs Off on Keystone XL

A day after promising action on climate change, president now faces crucial test of commitment to environmental causes.

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Barack Obama‘s powerful call for climate action faced an immediate test on Tuesday, with the president forced into a decision on one of the most contentious items on his agenda: the Keystone XL pipeline.

A day after Obama made a strong commitment to climate in his inaugural address, the governor of Nebraska signed off on the pipeline, leaving it up to the White House to decide on the fate of the project.

“Construction and operation of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline … would have minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska,” Dave Heineman, the governor of Nebraska, wrote in a letter to the White House.

The approval now leaves the fate of a project seen as a litmus test of the administration’s environmental credentials entirely in Obama’s hands.

It also removes any breathing space the president might have had to put together a plan to make good on the stirring promises on climate in his inaugural address.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.