Political Football Obamas Keystone Pipeline Punt

Political Football: The President's Keystone Pipeline Punt

The Obama administration's postponement of its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline may have more to do with politics than with allowing adequate time to ensure the project's environmental suitability.

The Obama administration's announcement late last week that it is delaying its final decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline may have more to do with politics and the upcoming midterm elections than with allowing adequate time for deliberative review to ensure the project's environmental suitability.

That's the gist of recent articles published by U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, and New American.

U.S. News & World Report says the adminstration's postponement "has been seen as a political move from people on both sides of the pipeline debate, as pushing back a concrete decision will shield Democrats before the 2014 midterm elections." The article notes that "the [Democratic] party is split on the issue, with Democrats from states with large oil economies calling for the project’s approval, but other Democrats rejecting it for environmental reasons."

A Different Interpretation

New American says the State Department's announcement that it wants to wait for legal proceedings in the Nebraska Supreme Court to play out before approving construction of the pipeline should be translated thus:

"The president asked us to come up with reasons he could hide behind to delay making a decision until after November. And we found two. …"

"First, Nebraska legislators have been frustrated over the delays in completing Phase IV of the pipeline so they passed a law allowing Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman to use the power of eminent domain to clear the path for the pipeline through the state. …"

"Second, environmentalists have been flooding the State Department with emails protesting the approval — some two and a half million of them at last count. And someone has to read those emails to determine if they have a legitimate gripe, or are just part of a huge tsunami provoked by greens to delay the decision into infinity."

Meanwhile, Politico, Time and NBC News report that a coalition of Earth Day demonstrators—including some cowboys, Indians and celebrities—are camping out on the National Mall this week to protest the Keystone project.

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