Other views: Politics put ahead of Keystone XL approval

  • Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:01 a.m.

That metallic sound you hear is President Barack Obama again kicking the politically tough decision on the Keystone XL pipeline down the road.

This is embarrassing. The White House has all the information it needs to approve the pipeline, yet once more has put politics ahead of policy, just as it has done on tax reform and immigration.

Keystone, under the microscope for about six years, is arguably the most studied oil pipeline project in American history. But each time a national election cycle approaches, the administration conjures a delay to avoid alienating key political allies on opposing sides of the issue. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline; Big Labor favors it. Members of his party donít want to be pinned down with the midterm elections on the horizon.

The latest delay came on Good Friday, ahead of a May deadline for federal agencies to complete additional reviews on the pipeline. This time the administrationís excuse is that the pipelineís path in Nebraska is in limbo because a state judge invalidated legislation that let Nebraskaís governor approve the route. Thatís a side issue, and the White House knows itís not a legitimate reason to delay a decision.

Now neither side expects a decision until after the November midterm elections _ and maybe not even then. After all, fast approaching is the 2016 election cycle. Obama sat on his hands in 2010 and 2011, then avoided a decision during his own re-election campaign in 2012. Even though he canít seek another term, there is no reason to believe his political strategy will change.

The irony in all these delaying tactics is that Canadian companies already move oil-sands crude through the U.S. in other pipelines.

The economic and national security benefits of the Keystone pipeline outweigh any environmental risks. The $7 billion project could produce thousands of jobs, provide millions in new investment and enhance U.S. energy independence. TransCanada Corp., the company behind the pipeline, has rerouted the pipeline around Nebraskaís environmentally sensitive region to answer environmental concerns. Also, a recent State Department study found that the pipeline would not produce a significant net increase in carbon emissions, a major cause of global climate change.

Really, how much more research is needed?

Eventually, Canada will tire of presidential obfuscation and build a pipeline to a Canadian port. From there, theyíll ship oil to China and India, cutting out U.S. refineries and the jobs they provide.

The nation deserves better than these short-sighted political games.

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