With President Obama’s State Department deciding on Friday to delay further any decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, his environmentalist supporters were overjoyed. Nearly everyone else saw it as a political stunt designed to put off the decision until after the election.
The State Department is using faintly plausible excuses for the additional delay: a lawsuit in Nebraska, and two and a half million e-mails in its inbox. But it’s not deliberate, claimed an unnamed State Department spokesman:
We felt that given that we’re a few weeks off from early May that we’d be in the best position to ask [the eight federal agencies involved in the decision-making process] to ... wait until they have an adequate foundation to make their judgments about the project.
There’s no intent to delay the process. The intent is to be able to ensure that the analysis that we do is based on a route that is fundamental to our review process and that the analysis and the comments that we get from the interagency community are indeed relevant to the real project that could potentially move ahead.
Translation: 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. Unfortunately some landowners saw this as a land grab, filed suit, and found a receptive ear in a judge who ruled the law as unconstitutional. This was just plausible enough for the State Department to call a halt, to wait until the Nebraska Supreme Court hears the case. Conveniently enough, that won’t happen any earlier than January 2015, well past the November elections.
Second, environmentalists have been flooding the State Department with e-mails protesting the approval — some two and a half million of them at last count. And someone has to read those e-mails 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.
This pleased the environmentalists, including Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, who responded, "Any day without the Keystone XL pipeline is a good day because it means more dirty tar sands crude in the ground where it belongs."
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Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images