This afternoon, just as folks prepare to head home for Easter, the Obama Administration announced that it will extend the comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, which means a final decision will likely take place after the November 4 elections.
As OSFC has noted many times, delay, delay, delay has been President Obama’s strategy over the past five years – why? A recent poll hit the nail on the head, finding that over 60 percent of Americans believe that the delay on Keystone XL is due to “politics” rather than “legitimate concerns” about the pipeline.
One thing is clear: President Obama doesn’t want to make a decision between siding with a small vocal minority of extreme groups and a billionaire activist, or the droves of labor and union workers who desperately need Keystone XL jobs; numerous Democrats in the Senate and his administration who have urged him to approve the pipeline so Americans can reap the benefits; climate, energy, and national security experts who have said Keystone XL is absolutely in our national interest; or the overwhelming majority of the American people who support Keystone XL.
Just last week, eleven Democrats signed on to a letter urging President Obama to let his “final decision be the right one, finding that the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.” Union and labor groups also weighed in. As the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) explained in a recent letter, “unemployed construction workers desperately need the work” and Keystone XL is a “lifeline” for thousands of members.
National security experts such as General Jim Jones, former State Department special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs David Goldwyn, and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz have been calling on President Obama to approve Keystone XL to increase our energy security and national security. Former Obama national security advisor Thomas E. Donilon said that he “probably would” advise approval of Keystone XL.
Other former Obama administration officials in support of Keystone XL include Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and former Obama U.S. Geological Survey chief Marcia McNutt have endorsed the pipeline. Let’s not forget that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy exposed Keystone XL opponents’ claims as false when she said that Keystone XL won’t affect EPA’s work on climate and “If there’s oil there, someone will find it and use it.” And, as the Washington Post recently reported “many government officials privately back the project on the grounds that it would expand the oil supply the U.S. would receive from a trusted ally, as well as bolster our relationship with Canada more broadly.” Long-time Obama supporter Warren Buffet said Keystone XL is a “good idea for the country.”
Look for today’s announcement by the president to be a unifying rallying call to ensure Keystone XL is approved in a timely manner – but in reality it’s just another political punt, one that will likely spur a significant call for action.