Whoever was hoping President Barack Obama would finally make up his mind on the Keystone XL pipeline once the midterm elections were over was in for a disappointed on Thursday. At a news conference have gave after his Democratic Party lost its majority in the Senate two days earlier, the president refused to take a position.
“There’s an independent process that’s moving forward,” he said. “I’m going to let that process play out.”
Except that process has already “played out” — twice! The only reason the pipeline isn’t being built is the president’s refusal to let it happen.
The $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline would connect the oilfields of Alberta, Canada to refineries and ports on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and carry the equivalent of more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day.
American labor unions favor building the pipeline because it would create construction jobs. But environmentalists — another key constituency of Obama’s party — argue that it will increase Canadian oil sand production, which is more polluting than conventional oil extraction, even if two separate State Department studies and numerous industry reports have shown Keystone would have negligible environmental effect.
The first State Department study was released in August 2011 and found no good reason for not building the pipeline. The second, undertaken at Obama’s insistence, came out in March of last year and reiterated the original study’s conclusions. It said “approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.” It suggested that if Keystone wasn’t built, Canada would find other ways to get the oil to market.
In June, it did.
Canada lobbied hard for Keystone XL but, exasperated by the Obama Administration’s dithering, it approved the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline that month which will transport some 525,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Pacific coast — from where it can be exported to China.
America is losing out on an economic opportunity not because some “independent process” is taking time. The only reason is that the country has a radically green president who won’t take the advice of his own experts.