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In a video interview with energyNOW!, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu lays out a familiar argument for the Keystone XL pipeline. Namely, that we’re going to be using oil anyway, it’s better to get it from Canada than somewhere else:

“It’s certainly true that having Canada as a supplier for our oil is much more comforting than to have other countries supply our oil. … It’s not perfect, but it’s a tradeoff, and meanwhile, I as the Secretary of Energy am going to focus on batteries for electric vehicles, biofuels, and energy efficiency.

The comments were strikingly similar to remarks made last fall by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which set off a firestorm of speculation that approval of the pipeline was a done deal:

“We haven’t finished all of the analysis, so as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it,” Ms. Clinton said in response to a question from the audience at the event on Friday.

“But we are inclined to do so and we are for several reasons … we’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada.”

Tolerating dirty oil, she added, is a reality “until we can get our act together as a country and figure out that clean, renewable energy is in both our economic interests and the interests of our planet.”

But the oddest thing about the video is that Chu refers to the forthcoming State Department decision in the past tense, as though it already happened:

“Well, let me just say first that the decision the State Department made was a State Department decision.”

It would be easy to read too much into something like that, but either way, if there’s a chance the pipeline won’t be approved, why would Chu start off by distancing himself from the State Department and talking about his own work on renewable energy?

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.