The Obama administration has found yet another way to keep from deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline’s northern leg, from Canada to Cushing. This time, to hear the administration tell it (with a straight face, no less), a court case stands in the way.
The State Department recently said that because of a Nebraska court decision in February that invalidated part of the pipeline’s route, a final decision must be delayed. Conveniently, this means a final thumbs-up or thumbs-down almost certainly won’t come until after November’s midterm elections, because no resolution to the court fight is expected until late this year.
It’s interesting that after the court ruling in February, the administration said the case wouldn’t have a bearing on its decision-making. But now State has decided that federal agencies wouldn’t be able to measure the impact of the pipeline until the “uncertainty” resulting from the litigation was resolved.
So a project that’s been studied and dissected and debated for more than five years, and shown repeatedly to merit approval — in January, a State Department review cited no major environmental objections related to the pipeline — must wait even longer, just so President Barack Obama can score political points with environmentalists.
Those environmentalists have thrown a wrench into this project. They’ve voiced concerns about the pipeline’s route, concerns that were addressed in revisions to the route. They’ve barked about the potential damage that could be inflicted to land and water by leaks in the pipeline, but moving oil in this manner is far safer than moving it via rail — a practice that has only increased as Keystone has languished.
But of course, this is a blatantly political decision by Obama. He is bowing to people like Tom Steyer, the San Francisco billionaire who wants Keystone scuttled. Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million this year backing Democrats who feel as he does about climate change, and going after those who don’t.
That seems to be the one certainty: Keystone will get rejected by this anti-fossil fuel administration. The only question is when.