The Keystone XL pipeline is back in the news thanks to Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approving the new route proposed by TransCanada, the company that has spent the last few years trying to gain approval for the project.
Early last year, the Obama Administration rejected an application for the pipeline, which was obvious pandering to environmentalists who oppose its construction. The rejection of the application came despite a State Department report finding that there would be “limited adverse impact” in areas with which environementalists are concerned. However, President Obama did eventually back the southern part of the pipeline.
Shortly after the decision, The Washington Post editorial board slammed the Obama Administration over its rejection of the pipeline:
We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen — with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground — but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude — just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.
Environmentalists and Nebraska politicians say that the route TransCanada proposed might threaten the state’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region. But TransCanada has been willing to tweak the route, in consultation with Nebraska officials, even though a government analysis last year concluded that the original one would have “limited adverse environmental impacts.” Surely the Obama administration didn’t have to declare the whole project contrary to the national interest — that’s the standard State was supposed to apply — and force the company to start all over again.
And not only would the pipeline make oil exportation easier, it would have created some 179,000 jobs. When Republicans tried to make Keystone XL an issue in Congress, the White House lobbied Senate Democrats to help kill it yet again.
But now that issue has resurfaced, the White House will once again be forced to choose between appealing to its radical base and sound public policy. The Washington Post has reiterated its support of Keystone XL and called on the White House to get behind the project:
Mr. Obama should ignore the activists who have bizarrely chosen to make Keystone XL a line-in-the-sand issue, when there are dozens more of far greater environmental import. He knows that the way to cut oil use is to reduce demand for the stuff, and he has begun to put that knowledge into practice, setting tough new fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. That will actually make a difference, unlike blocking a pipeline here or there.
The ball is in the Obama Administration’s court. They can continue to appease the left’s most irrational element or actually take a bold step toward job creation and lessening the country’s dependence on foreign oil.