Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The administration is delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Despite the promise of construction jobs and a dependable source of Canadian oil for American refineries, last week the State Department announced an extension of the inter-agency comment period, likely pushing back the final decision until after the November mid-term elections. The project, which has bipartisan support, the backing of several unions, and approval from former energy and interior secretaries, would bring up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada down to Gulf Coast refineries.
Although Keystone XL is just one of a spider web of oil and natural gas pipelines running across the country, this project has been nonsensically delayed. In a speech last June, President Obama said the climate effects of Keystone XL would have an impact on the administration’s ultimate decision. These effects, however, would be minimal.
The State Department’s final environmental impact statement concludes that the project is safe, will have minimal environmental impact, and:
That approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply demand scenarios
Opponents of the project have also taken to minimizing the job numbers, saying that the pipeline will create only “a handful” of permanent jobs—and that’s correct. But that argument also dismisses the tens of thousands of construction jobs that the pipeline project will create. In fact, simply building the southern portion—which didn’t need the President’s approval—has already created 4,000 construction jobs. Further, Keystone XL also will add economic value, can be built without taxpayer assistance, will result in billions of dollars of tax revenue for the states through which it runs, and will provide a stable supply of oil.
With high economic benefits and minimal environmental impact, this project should be a no-brainer. But this is not the first time the president has made a statement on Keystone XL and then did nothing. In four short months it will be six years (yes, six) since TransCanada first submitted its application to the Department of State to build Keystone XL.
When the administration first delayed the project they announced a decision would be made by the end of 2011. Was that deadline met? Nope. President Obama punted until after the 2012 elections and here we are again, with the mid-term elections approaching, and apparently it’s fourth and long again. So it’s time to punt. Again.