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From ‘Prudent’ to ‘Shameful,’ Latest Keystone Delay Irks Both Sides of the Aisle

Despite calls for the shovel-ready jobs and GDP boost to get moving, State Department defends kicking the can.

Bill Straub


April 23, 2014 - 6:49 pm
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WASHINGTON – The State Department’s announcement that it is postponing a decision on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline has drawn condemnation from both sides of the political aisle, with criticism of the delay ranging from “shameful” to “a stunning act of political cowardice.”

The pronouncement, issued late on the Friday before Easter when the public’s attention was elsewhere – something of a tradition in Washington when the news could be considered controversial – cited the need to wait on a Nebraska state court decision regarding the ultimate pipeline route and obtain additional comments from governmental agencies.

A State Department official, who provided background to reporters in a Friday conference call, stressed that the proposed route may change as a result of the Nebraska district court decision, a move that would require additional environmental study.

“The prudent decision was to allow additional time,” the official said.

Recommendations on how or when to proceed with the pipeline are in the hands of the State Department since it is a multinational project that also involves Canada.

At issue is a complaint filed by three landowners who reside along the proposed pipeline route who are challenging a state law that provided Gov. Dave Heineman the authority to approve the project. The District Court sided with the landowners, maintaining that the decision actually rests with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, created in 1885 to remove politics from railroad condemnation decisions.

The case is headed for the Nebraska Supreme Court. In the meantime, the Obama administration intends to play the waiting game, an unpopular decision in some quarters.

“It is crystal clear that the Obama administration is simply not serious about American energy and American jobs,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.

“At a time of high unemployment in the Obama economy, it’s a shame that the administration has delayed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline for years,” McConnell said. “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.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the move “shameful” and accused President Obama of caving in to environmental interests who oppose pipeline construction.

“With tens of thousands of American jobs on the line and our allies in Eastern Europe looking for energy leadership from America, it’s clear there is little this administration isn’t willing to sacrifice for politics,” Boehner said. “For no reason other than the president’s refusal to stand up to the extreme left, good-paying jobs and North American energy remain out of reach. This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it’s been blocked for more than 2,000 days.”

This time Republicans weren’t alone in chiding the president. Three Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns – Sen. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, Sen. Mark Pryor, of Arkansas, and Sen. Mark Begich, of Alaska – questioned the administration’s decision.

Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was particularly critical, asserting the “indefinite delay” was “irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.”

“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,” Landrieu said. “There are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity and North America’s energy security at stake.”

Pryor maintained “there’s no excuse for another delay.”

“The President needs to approve this project now to ensure our future energy security and create jobs here at home,” he said.

And Begich added that he is “frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration on the Keystone project.”

The Keystone pipeline is a project of TransCanada Corp., an energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, with a projected cost of $5.4 billion. It primarily is intended to transport oil sands bitumen – sands saturated with a viscous form of petroleum — from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Two phases covering 2,151 miles already are operating, one from Hardisty, Alberta, to Patoka, Ill., and a second from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla. A third phase under construction will run from Cushing to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The pipeline system currently in operation can move up to 590,000 barrels of the crude Canadian oil to refineries in the American Midwest per day.

It is a proposed fourth phase that is drawing controversy. TransCanada wants to run a 1,661-mile pipeline from Hardisty crossing over the border into Morgan, Mont., to move 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day. If approved, it will terminate in Steele City, where the oil will enter the other pipelines.

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Top Rated Comments   
For years Obama and his administration have been open about wanting to see fuel costs rise to what the folks in Europe pay. It is so unfair that we pay so little!!! They see it as a way to punish us for causing all this global warming. I'm sorry, "Climate Change". Does anyone remember how the left screamed when gas prices went up so high during Bush's years? They claimed Bush was helping his oil buddies rape the American people. When the gas prices doubled under Obama, the left praises Obama for working so hard to save the planet. It's enough to make your head spin.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think at this point, if Obama thought digging up his mother's skeletal remains and hanging them off Carney's podium as wind chimes would keep the Senate in Dem control, he'd do it.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (22)
All Comments   (22)
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Bloomberg has an interesting piece that shows a lot of work about how Canadian/American relations have soured over KXL.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
the waiting on the state of Nebraska court decision diversion sounds as stupid and hollow as a video causing the death of 4 Americans in Libya.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes but...will both sides do something about this? Absoultely not. Why? Because they don't have the ball$ to go up against the dictator in the WH.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
NOT NEARLY ENOUGH SAID ..bohner called the move “shameful” and accused President Obama of caving in to environmental interests..."

NO don't let these liberal fascists get away with this hypocrisy- they were bought and paid for with a lot of CASH MONEY from RICH CAPITALISTS who oppose the pipleline- 1% 'er phonies who think they are 'green" and yet contribute to pollution in their own businesses- MR Boneher - not a good move to present Obama as if he is a green or actually gives a flying fart about it if it does not get money in DEM pockets- stop playing their game- stop singing in their language
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here is a brief list of pluses and minuses from my point of view:

creates jobs for period of time
landowner's who approve receive payments


danger to aquifer
unhappy landowners threatened with eminent domain
foreign company

Benefit to me

Cost to me
unknown but should be small, if any

Benefit to country
small and temporary bump in output
potential alternate feed to refineries

cost to country
potential pipeline break spoils farm field or aquifer

Well there it is. Notice that there are things that I didn't include, such as an increase in the US oil output, none of it is ours. I didn't talk about energy independence because this stuff doesn't help us at all. The pipeline will be the closest we get to any of that oil.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
So now the Democrats are unhappy with the Communist dictator Obama? And a Communist run federal government? They better wake up to what they've allowed to happen to this country.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Want energy independence? Want to close down the EPA, BLM, IRS, NSA and the other overreaching unconstitutional agencies? Want your liberty and freedoms restored?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another Canadian comments -
Chris Doherty, Burlington, Ontario
"He's lobbying against America's interests, but for his own. You're assuming the two coincide.""
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Opinion from Canada.

"Steyer is running public campaigns to scuttle the Keystone pipeline — despite making part of his fortune from the fossil fuel industry — and has American pundits suggesting that he is winning his fight."
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Youth is overwhelmingly Green and Obama will try to capture their vote. They are also big in the social justice department, so see Workers will always be subordinated to the youth and movie star support.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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