Despite the protests and arrests and warnings against building a 2,100 mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, Obama is on track to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Now, mainstream media is (disingenuously and lazily, imo) drumming up speculation that the President might back out of approving the pipeline.
This is false. He’s already approved nearly half the line, and has clearly stated his intentions on signing the deal. Indeed, half the pipeline is nearly completely built and Obama toured construction and gave a support speech earlier this year:
“Today, we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the gulf a priority,” he said, while the northern portion requires additional review.
“But the fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years, including one from Canada,” Mr. Obama added. “And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.” Obama, March 2012. Via NYTimes.
Today, the media is intentionally ignoring his clear statements and unwavering intent. Why? Why is the media creating a false theater? Why would Obama (or any president) back-out of a $7 billion project halfway?
A recent article by USNews sums up the faux issue:
Obama is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them on this and countless other related issues down the road.
Environmentalists have had very little success in stopping the line from being built. My best guess of what will happen:
- Obama approves the line quickly. He will restate his past comments, and remind us that the line is necessary. To my mind, this is most likely to happen. He’s simply waiting for an environmental assessment and species conservation reports. Once they’re complete, he’ll sign off on the second half of the line. Environmentalists will balk, and try to sue.
- Delay due to lawsuit. I doubt there is a strong enough case to be made against this pipeline. Despite the length, the project has a relatively small physical footprint. Environmentalists will most likely sue under either the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty. It’s possible they’ll try to get an injunction against the DOI, but this is real big stretch. There are already thousands of miles of pipelines cross-crossing the US, Mexico, and Canada. So, they’d have to show this line is exceptionally special. Worse, for environmentalists wanting to sue, TransCanada has been working with the USFWS and DOI on bird and other endangered species conservation plans. In fact, a near final draft conservation plan was released in August, 2012 here (PDF).
- Obama may delay, but only to cow-tow to certain states, not environmentalist’s objections. To my mind, this is the least likely of the three scenarios. He’ll accept objections not from environmental groups, but from states like Nebraska worried about the impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer; or Texas, which is (superficially) concerned with giving private property away to a foreign company. However, these states have already filed their objections with the administration, and Obama jumped, delaying the line for up to a year. I do not see that happening again.
The pipeline is going to be built. Don’t let the press fool you.