Juliet Eilperin @ The WaPo:
Sen. John Kerry pointed to climate change as among the top international threats facing the United States at his nomination hearing Thursday, cheering environmentalists and dismaying oil industry officials, who have been watching how his confirmation could affect the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.
In his opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Massachusetts Democrat said that American foreign policy “is defined by life-threatening issues like climate change,” along with political unrest in Africa and human trafficking across the globe. Kerry, the panel’s outgoing chairman, has made the issue of global warming central to his career in public service. He has traveled repeatedly to international climate negotiations and pushed in the Senate — unsuccessfully — for a limit on national greenhouse gas emissions.
Later this year, the State Department must decide whether to grant TransCanada a presidential permit to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline extension, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to America’s Gulf Coast refineries. Climate activists warn that the project would be devastating to the planet, while proponents say the pipeline would boost the nation’s energy security and generate short-term construction jobs.
Environmentalists have put Kerry on notice that they expect him to use his new post to curb the nation’s carbon output, in part by rejecting TransCanada’s permit.