The Washington Post ran an editorial yesterday blasting the political obstacles to the construction of the KeystoneXL Pipeline, and criticizing arguments made by environmentalists:
THE CASE FOR ultimately approving the Keystone XL pipeline — always strong — has grown stronger.
A key environmentalist argument against Keystone XL has been that the project would encourage the extraction of bitumen, a particularly dirty oil-like substance, from the “oil sands” in Alberta. If activists could “shut in” Canadian bitumen, limiting the ability of oil companies to sell the product, they argued, perhaps petroleum firms wouldn’t be able to fully develop the oil sands.
Of course, it was obvious all along that Canada wasn’t going to sit on this enormously valuable oil resources if the United States declined to purchase the oil. It was quite clear that this oil would find its way out of the ground and onto world markets regardless if the Keystone pipeline was constructed.
So President Obama’s refusal so far to authorize Keystone XL has little rational basis. On the other hand, the Republican response hardly represents an ideal of policymaking, either. GOP lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to amend bills to mandate the approval of Keystone XL, attaching such a provision to a transportation bill they passed last month.
Attracting foreign investment in projects that will create U.S. jobs requires predictable regulatory procedures. The way to encourage the efficient extraction and delivery of the oil that the United States will require for decades is to make clear that government won’t use the issue as a political football. Both sides have given investors reason to worry during the Keystone XL fight.
They attack both President Obama and Congressional Republicans for playing politics with the pipeline. However, it was President Obama who started this game. If he had allowed the State Department to do its job, which originally remarked that they saw no reason to disapprove of its construction (Hillary Clinton said this), this wouldn’t have become a national issue that politicians began fighting over.