Obama’s Keystone Cop-Out

Blog Post for Canada Trade StoryIn a transparent political sop aimed at radical environmentalists and their big-buck donors, the Obama administration announced it is indefinitely extending the review period for the Keystone XL pipeline. The delay, announced in a Good Friday news dump, will likely push the final decision on the project past the November mid-term elections. 

Republicans, red-state Democrats and a top labor union official hammered the move.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, characterized the delay as “nothing short of a stunning act of political cowardice.” Rep. Lee Terry (R-NB) contended it was “shameful,” further explaining that another spring construction season will be lost as result. They were joined by Democrats such as Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK), who contended “there’s no excuse for another delay,” and Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) who was “frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration on the Keystone project.” 

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers International Union of America (LIUNA) was equally appalled, calling the decision “politics at its worst,” further noting that it represents “another low blow to the working men and women of our country for whom the Keystone XL Pipeline is a lifeline to good jobs and energy security.”

The Obama administration was in the midst of a 90-day review period, during which federal agencies were examining an environmental study provided by the State Department when the delay was announced. That would be the latest study. The State Department has been studying the potential impact of the pipeline for the last six years.

Regardless, they contended they were giving those agencies “additional time,” due in part to litigation taking place before before the Nebraska Supreme Court that could determine the final route. In February, Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that a 2012 law allowing Gov. Dave Heineman to approve the proposed route through that state was unconstitutional. The Nebraska Supreme Court’s current schedule makes it unlikely the case can be resolved before the election.

O’Sullivan completely rejected that excuse. “The administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest based on months-old litigation in Nebraska regarding a state level challenge to a state process—and which has nothing to with the national interest,” he said in a Friday statement.

Another excuse for the delay trotted out by State was the “unprecedented number” of new public comments, totaling nearly 2.5 million received during a separate comment period ending in early March. “The Permit process will conclude once factors that have a significant impact on determining the national interest of the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents,” the Department said. State has jurisdiction over the issue because the pipeline crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

The latest delay infuriated 11 Democrats, who only days earlier had sent Obama a letter urging him to make a final decision by May. The letter noted that the process surrounding the project “has been exhaustive in its time, breadth and scope.” 

Their pleas were effectively ignored by the administration, despite the fact that the non-decision leaves many Democrats vulnerable in a year where their current hold on the Senate looks increasingly tenuous. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who is desperately fighting to save her seat in the upper chamber, was especially incensed. “This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable,” she said. “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.” Landrieu also threatened to “take decisive action to get this pipeline permit approved.” 

That’s unlikely to happen. While the Senate last year voted 62-37 on a non-binding amendment to approve the project, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) probably won’t upset the administration’s political strategy. It is one that ostensibly mitigates the political damage for Democrats in oil states, since no decision is better than an outright rejection of the project. At the same time, the delay keeps the Democrats’ environmentalist constituency happy, along with big-bucks donors like billionaire hedge-fund operator Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million supporting Democrats who champion tough legislation to combat climate change. 

As Landreiu and her 11 fellow Democrats have indicated, the first part of the strategy is flawed. As an exhaustive exposé by Powerline’s John Hinderacker published yesterday reveals, the second part of the strategy is on shaky ground as well. Hinderaker chronicles the machinations of Farallon Capital Management L.L.C., a hedge fund founded by Steyer in 1986. It made billions—from thermal coal production. “Today, he is a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal,” Hinderaker explains. “That fits with his current economic interests: banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects.” 

Steyer isn’t alone in promoting such monumental hypocrisy. On January 31, the State Department released its own report of its final environmental impact study. It stated that the Keystone XL pipeline will not increase carbon emissions.

Sheer reality animated that decision. New Jersey’s Star-Ledger editorial page editor Tom Moran connects the dots. “This oil will get to market, one way or another,” he writes. “Canada can build substitute pipelines to either coast, feeding demand in China or Europe, or both….In other words… the oil will still be burned. That is the rock-hard reality these environmentalists do not want to face.”

It is a rock-hard reality that seemingly works to Republican advantage. Even though labor unions invariably align themselves with Democrats, LIUNA has distributed a letter in the districts of 27 House Democrats, urging their members to warn their respective representatives not to oppose the pipeline. “For every action, there is a reaction, and our reaction to this frontal assault on our way of life needs to be loud and clear. If you do not stand with us, we sure as hell will not stand with you,” it stated. 

Republicans themselves were pushing the notion that Democrats who support the pipeline are nonetheless ineffective legislators, incapable of passing legislation important to the people in their respective states. “Landrieu has been telling anyone who will listen how influential she is after being named Chairman of the Energy Committee, but it turns out that Landrieu isn’t influential at all,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring in a statement released Monday. He continued, “Landrieu isn’t alone. The Keystone delay simply reinforces how ineffective, powerless and without influence Senators like Mark Begich, Mark Udall, Mark Pryor, Mark Warner and Kay Hagan are. Just a week prior to the President’s announcement, these Senators ‘urged’ President Obama to approve Keystone, a plea which he proceeded to blatantly and publicly ignore.”

Republicans have also made the connection between Reid and Steyer. An ad produced by American Commitment blasts Reid for attacking the conservative Koch brothers, even as he gets in bed with the the Steyer Brothers, Tom and Jim. The RNC also characterized the Democrats’ all-night conference on climate change in March as tantamount to renting out the Senate floor to Steyer in exchange for much-needed campaign cash. “Last night’s talk-a-thon was nothing more than payback for Steyer’s donations to the Democrat Party,” they said in a statement. “Either Mr. Reid or the Democrat Party needs to reimburse taxpayers for their campaign stunt.” The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe echoed that assessment at the time. “There is another more political reason for the decision by Senate Democrats to devote their time to the [climate change] issue right now,” he contended. “And that issue is campaign cash.”

Unsurprisingly on Sunday, the ever-reliable DNC Chair and Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied the Obama administration’s decision was driven by politics. “As a member of Congress who represents hundreds of thousands of people in south Florida, I want to make sure the right decision is arrived at and that the president makes that decision carefully and doesn’t factor politics into his decision, which I don’t think he is,” she assured “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. She further insisted Obama doesn’t need to shore up his political base to keep the Senate from falling into GOP hands. “Take a look at the 2012 U.S. Senate results,” she declared. “You have in almost half of the Senate races that we had an open seat, the Democratic candidate won even though Mitt Romney won that state. So, you know, the predictions that we are headed for the minority in the United States Senate really don’t line up with the historical situation on the ground in those campaigns.”

One suspects the thousands of Americans who have worked on pipeline projects in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where LIUNA members are employed, aren’t buying it. One Pittsburgh-area contractor in the involved in the fracking-inspired oil boom explained why.  “It has created more work for our business. There’s jobs here for the first time in many, many years. Legitimate, good-paying jobs,” said Alex Paris, head of a firm founded by his grandfather in 1928. 

Employees were equally impressed. “I’ve probably worked 15 jobs, and none of them nearly as stable as this one, or nearly as interesting,” said Amy Dague, 38, of Wheeling, W.Va. “It’s definitely changed the way I see my future. I see this as long-term employment,” she added.

It is a future Democrats and their environmentalist allies would thoroughly squander, along with our relationship with Canada, which is becoming frustrated by the cynical political calculations involved here. Furthermore, it is an effort doomed to fail. As Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer told Fox News, the oil is coming “whether it be by rail or truck.” In the meantime, Democrats aligned with the Obama administration will continue to make one thing increasingly clear: when it comes to doing right by the overwhelming majority of the American public that supports the pipeline by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, or remaining beholden to crony capitalists and their radical environmental allies, the public gets the short end of the pipeline. Along with the ObamaCare debacle, it’s one more thing the public is sure to remember next November.

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  • pennant8

    One aspect of this that needs some clarification is what happens to the crude once it reaches the Gulf. Some people are under the impression that it will be exported in its crude form, others believe that it will be refined and then exported with little if any of it going to the domestic market.

    As I understand it, we already do export a fair amount of refined products. I don’t see anything wrong with that, it’s good to know that the US is still exporting something.

    The focus seems to be on the job creation that goes into building the pipeline. After it is built, then what? We need more information on what the long term economic impact will be. Will it help to bring down the price of gas, diesel and home heating oil here in the US, or will it be just another toy for the big time wheeler-dealer speculators to play with?

    • kasandra

      Your comments seems like the old Russian joke. The joke tells the story of a peasant with one cow who hates
      his neighbor because he has two. A sorcerer offers to grant the envious
      farmer a single wish. “Kill one of my neighbor’s cows!” he demands.” So the fact that the pipeline will provide good jobs to people working on the pipeline, create a cascade of jobs to serve those people, result in needed economic activity and probably help secure energy independence for the U.S. are all less important than the possibility that some “big time wheeler-dealer speculators” may benefit and, like all jobs, the pipeline construction jobs may end some day.

      • pennant8

        No, personally I am for the pipeline because no matter what happens to the crude today, someday in a worst case scenario when the Middle East explodes it will be our ace in the hole. All I am saying is that these discussions on the pipeline concentrate on short term construction jobs [which I agree are better than no construction jobs] and environmental concerns, and not much else. As for my comment on big time wheeler-dealer speculators, I stand by that. It is my opinion that the roller-coaster price of gas at the pump is driven by market speculators most of the time including the present time when there are currently no shortages and with the possible exception of the Ukrainian situation there is nothing going on internationally to cause gas prices to to start heading up once again, and don’t tell me it because of the coming summer driving season.

        • kasandra

          I doubt that you could find anyone who doesn’t think that the oil companies are ripping off the public. Some of that criticism is earned and some not (government mandates for different blends each season in each region, petroleum being denominated in U.S. dollars which, due to the government, have weakened causing the price at the pump to escalate) all cause prices to rise. Never the less, the benefits of building so outweigh any possible detriments (i.e., none) that at this point only fanatics and (or including) our president still oppose it. That oil is going to be used somewhere and it may as well be here.

        • reader

          The main reason gas prices are as high as they are is that the dollar is depreciating as fast as it is. You can thank Obama, his glorious treasury crew and Harry Reed above all other clowns on DC for that.

    • Reality chk

      The refineries are on the gulf. They could be closer to the sources in the US, but regs prevent (financially) the construction of new refineries. Part of the long term energy dependence upon our enemies/unicorn farting solar and wind power strategy that is liberal blindness to reality. Al Gore is so proud!

  • james connolly

    Everything this inept political fraud does just gives me just another reason to VOTE REPUBLICAN for the rest of my life.

  • Christopher Riddle

    I don’t understand why The Keystone Pipeline isn’t considered a”National Security”issue?????

    • BEN JABO

      Without Keystone we are reliant on imported oil, from countries that are very unfriendly to the U.S
      WE and our friendly countries have more than enough to keep us supplied
      at reasonable prices
      Obama isn’t concerned with our security, he wants to keep us helpless

      • UCSPanther

        And enriching his cronies. Without the pipeline, they use railways, and one of the biggest benefactors is Warren Buffet, who is heavily vested in the BNSF railway (Which should be called Warren Buffet’s Express) which hauls a lot of oil.

      • dennis x

        You do realize that the us won’t get any oil. This is a Canadian pipeline, ie Canadian Oil. It will only travel thru the us. It will create a few lasting jobs, but balance the threat of an oil spill

        • UCSPanther

          Ever heard of Lac Megantic?

          30 people dead and the core of that town gutted after an oil train crashed up and caught ablaze.

        • BEN JABO

          Canada would prefer to ship it to us, since it’s a much easier & shorter task to load it on boats and ship it half-way around the world to China
          For the life of me, I can’t recall when a pipeline exploded and wiped out a town of containing at least 40 residents

          • dennis x

            Apparently us panther has.

        • DVult

          The pipeline is meant to send Canadian oil to the US where it would be refined. If it was traveling through the US then where would it end up?

      • Christopher Riddle

        Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • BEN JABO

          Tell me something that you do know
          because you claim that you know it all

      • USARetired

        He wants us the keep wasting our money in Asia with his Muslim cousins and brothers!

  • A Z

    There are 3 senators from Alaska?

    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
    Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK) >> (D-AR)
    Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)

    Sorry, but I pointed it out but it bugged me. Small mistake. I have read the article completely & have copied it for future use. What are the chances that google will bring up articles written by writers of the Left over good articles?

    DNC and its’ clique are going to pay at the voting booth when voters vote them out. 2 years in the wilderness are not going to repair their reputation because Obama will still be in office. The fallout from his poor decision will lag their actual implementation and so if he sits on his hands (an action/choice in itself) after November, the hits in foreign affairs will keep in coming.

    • Edward E

      In the 1960′s “Anti-racists” forced EVERY & ONLY white countries to open their borders to massive non-white immigration.

      Then “Anti-racists” FORCED ALL & ONLY white people to “integrate” or face consequences for being “intolerant”.

      Now “Anti-racists” are calculating that ALL and ONLY white children will become minorities and eventually EXTINCT!

      If “Anti-racists” did this to EVERY & ONLY black countries, IT WOULD be called a GENOCIDE!

      Anti-racist is a >code< for anti-White

      • A Z

        Why do you bother to reply to me. My kids ain’t white. I told them that some would consider them ice people and others would consider them mud people. One of them did not take truth of how some people would view them a priori very well.

        As for myself I know European History going back to the Neolithic through today. I know all the myths and legends. I know the culture. I dare say I could cite and have seen a good deal more of it than you.

        Have a nice day! =)

  • vnamvet1969

    While we have, under our feet, the solution to provide us with energy independence every battle is important. So what if this oil exported, it is another excuse for the environmentalists to wage war on all natural resources. This situation is indicative to what will be done in the future, and they will use this decision to defend every radical proposal on oil and natural gas production. Climate ‘science’ is dead, and it is time to move on and get people working again.

  • Maynard

    So much for the “Shovel ready projects” Obama promised America.

  • Guest

    Did any patriotic American expect him to do otherwise?; He won’t approve the pipeline because it would help America. I KNEW he wouldn’t sign it.

  • American1969

    No surprise here.

  • Reality chk

    Gee, if only this amount of consideration was expended prior to the non voting passage of the unread legislation called the affordable care act! We’d all be richer!

  • noname

    People, PLEASE look online at Operation American Spring.org, and patriotsforamerica.ning.com, constitutional emergency. Of course, YOU WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT THIS IN THE MSM. PLEASE RESEARCH AND PASS THIS INFORMATION ON. THANK YOU, and sorry for shouting.

  • Debbie G

    Funny how the unions flip sides when the man THEY helped put into the White House blows them off.

  • simonzee1

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg are all leftist supporters of Obama who as C.S Lewis referred to as the classic do-gooders like we have come to expect from most left-wing liberals who want to rid the world of guns…upsized sodas and oil including the Keystone pipeline and a free internet.


    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    C.S. Lewis”

    With all Kerry’s and Obama’s preaching on freedom could they stop supporting the oligarchs in America that are trying to destroy internet freedoms. No one believes what Kerry says because like Obama they both sprout Tall Turkey Tales.

    This was the same FCC that wanted to put monitors in every newsroom in America. Have you got the message that big government is failing you yet..

    Blame Hollywood and big media for the end of the free internet.

    It appears that these Obama groupies like Clooney who is reacting to Steve Wynn are getting sensitive now that their Messiah is falling apart. Obama is full of Tall Turkey Tales.


    And true to form…Hollywood and the entertainment industry lobbied hard and are about to take away a free internet. Blame Hollywood and Obama and the Democrats for taking away a free internet. A free internet disappeared under the Democrats at the hands of a Hollywood lobbyist who runs the FCC. Sorry…Obama runs the FCC as we saw that when the FCC tried to put monitors (agents) in every newsroom.

    The end of a free internet will be their shameful legac. Leave the internet alone.

    And don’t forget the leftist Silicon Valley activists who are right there with the Democrats to take away a free internet at the bidding of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. We saw Silicon Valley Values on display when they sold out shares before the big drop recently. A bit of insider trading while at the same time they kick out the disadvantaged in San Francisco CBD to make way for housing the rich techies.

    We used to talk about the importance of the separation of church and state. How about the separation of Hollywood and State? The Separation of Silicon Valley and the State. Remember those famous words of Obama. Hollywood best projects American values.

  • Jane Wegener

    The Obama administration is the party of liars anti Americanism and corruption. We MUST VOTE THEM OUT!!! To quote Pelosi WE MUST DRAIN THE SWAMP.