The Obama administration has procrastinated on another supposedly tough decision, kicking the Keystone XL Pipeline can down the road.
Hoping to avoid widespread outrage, the State Department announced late Friday afternoon that there would be another 90-day delay, citing “uncertainty” stemming from a Nebraska Supreme Court case regarding the pipeline’s route, Fox News reported.
Many responded with fury anyway.
“The decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., according to Fox. “By making it clear that they will not move the process forward until there is a resolution in a lawsuit in Nebraska, the administration is sending a signal that the small minority who oppose the pipeline can tie up the process in court forever. There are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity and North America’s energy security at stake.”
As chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Landrieu vowed to move decisively to get the project back on track.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that this well-over five-year-long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time,” said another Democrat, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
Concerned about missing another spring construction season, Heitkamp and 10 other Democratic senators wrote to the president, urging him to make a final decision by late May.
Republican reaction was predictably irate.
“It is crystal clear that the Obama administration is simply not serious about American energy and American jobs,” Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement, according to Politico. “Here’s the single greatest shovel-ready project in America – one that could create thousands of jobs right away – but the President simply isn’t interested. Apparently radical activists carry more weight than Americans desperate to get back on the job.”
In its finest bureaucratic acrobatics, the State Department argued that the administration is not trying to put off a decision.
“There is no intent to delay the process,” an unnamed agency official said, according to Politico. “The intent is to be able to ensure that the analysis and the comments that we get from the interagency community are indeed relevant to the real project that could potentially move ahead.”
Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer made perhaps the most forceful case for building the Keystone Pipeline as soon as possible. In an interview with Fox News’ Brett Baier on Friday, Doer said the project would create more blue-collar jobs on both sides of the border and reduce greenhouse gases by obviating the need to transport the oil via carbon-emitting rail and truck routes. Five years of studies have also identified significant safety and cost benefits, he said.
“We want hardhats and not lawyers employed on the pipeline project,” Doer said of the interminable delays the Nebraska courts imbroglio could have on construction.
Fox News panelist Charles Krauthammer said the State Department’s decision to conduct more studies doesn’t make sense. The project is beneficial to America “economically, in terms of national security, our independence on Venezuelans, on the Middle East, clearly in terms of energy independence,” he said, concluding that, worst of all, the decision is a slap in the face to our closest ally, Canada.
Supporters of the decision to procrastinate included Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who called the delay “absolutely correct.” Hedge funds billionaire, Democrat Tom Steyer, also rejoiced, calling the decision “good news on Good Friday for those who oppose Keystone as not being in our nation’s best interest,” according to Politico.
Others, though, said the wrong-headed move offered another example of Obama’s ideology trumping the facts and science on a contentious issue.
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