Beyond a squawking clutch of environmentalists and left-wing lawmakers, is there anyone who still disapproves of building the Keystone XL Pipeline?
Canada is onboard and has been for years. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican from an oil-heavy state, wants the pipeline green-lighted. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, is worried his party could suffer in the midterm elections if Keystone isn’t approved. Fellow Democrat Sen. Mary Landreiu says yes. So does Tom Donilon, the president’s former national security adviser. Hefty majorities of the American public want the project finished.
Partial support for Keystone has come even from one of Washington’s most intransigent and irresponsible extremists. “Today, we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the gulf a priority,” President Obama said in a speech in Ripley, Okla. The Obama administration even expedited certain parts of the permit process, all while refusing to approve the leg north of Cushing, saying further review was required and leaving the pipeline incomplete.
This dragging of feet and hurling of roadblocks has been the president’s standard approach to Keystone for years now. The left’s initial objection to the project—that it would run through ecologically vulnerable habitats in Nebraska, including one of the world’s largest aquifers—was squelched after Nebraska approved a law that would reroute the pipeline around the sensitive areas. Still the repeated and pointless delays continued, all over an initiative that would create thousands of jobs. (Obama obfuscated on this as well. His claim, made earlier this year, that the pipeline would create “maybe 2,000 jobs” was rated false by Politifact; the State Department’s estimates range from 3,900 to 42,100 jobs per year.)
One lawmaker is ready to force the White House’s hand:
Sen. John Hoeven said Wednesday that backers of the oil-sands pipeline are weighing efforts to attach the project to debt-ceiling legislation or another must-pass bill.
“We would try to attach it to something that [President Obama] would not veto,” Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican and outspoken advocate of the project, told reporters in a briefing.
Paul Ryan has suggested this approach in the past, though others in the GOP remain skeptical. But they may be running out of time. Canada’s Energy Board, having grown impatient with their paralyzed neighbor to the south, just approved a new plan that runs a pipeline west, from the Alberta oil sands to the British Columbia coast. The oil will then presumably be shipped to Asia.
Will this looming loss of jobs and resources spur the president to action? Most likely, he’ll continue stalling in the hope that Canada’s new route will kill the issue once and for all. Congress—both Republicans and Democrats—can’t let him get away with it.