Give Obama this: When he wants something, no one moves more quickly and decisively. From unilaterally rewriting Obamacare at least 18 times to bypassing Congress and implementing the DREAM Act’s immigration policies by fiat, Obama rules by decree. His executive orders recall the late Yul Brynner’s portrayal of Pharaoh Ramses II in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956). As the maximum leader of Egypt said: “So let it be written. So let it be done.”
Now that’s leadership.
“America does not stand still,” Obama likewise declared in his January 28 State of the Union address. “And neither will I.”
Obama has kept this promise. Regarding the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline, Obama has not stood still. Instead, he has sat on his rump and wallowed in relentless indecision.
Indeed, Obama has studied KXL as if it were a pathogen squirming beneath an electron microscope. En route to his life-saving vaccine, Jonas Salk probably didn’t scrutinize the polio virus as intensely.
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Five years and five months have passed since TransCanada first asked the State Department to bless KXL. Since the pipeline would cross America’s international border with Canada, it requires presidential approval, typically influenced by the State Department’s guidance. Since TransCanada filed its application on September 19, 2008, State has been very generous with its advice, offering at least five different assessments on KXL:
• On April 16, 2010, State found that KXL would have “limited adverse environmental impacts.”
• On August 26, 2011, State stated that “There would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed pipeline corridor.”
• On March 1, 2013, State virtually echoed its previous report when it ruled that “there would be no significant impacts to resources along the proposed Project route.”
• This past January 31, State concluded that “approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.”
• On February 26, State’s Office of Inspector General rejected charges that the department’s KXL review suffered ethical lapses: “OIG found that the department’s conflict of interest review was effective and that the review’s conclusions were reasonable.”
Obama’s 61-month-long navel-gaze on KXL (atop the four months that State pondered the pipeline late in G.W. Bush’s presidency) is pathetic when compared with American milestones that were achieved in less time:
• NASA needed four years, from 1979 to 1983, to build the Space Shuttle Discovery.
• As OilSandsFactCheck.org outlines in an excellent infographic, it took just two years (1941 to 1943) to build the Pentagon — the world’s largest office building, and home to 30,000 military and civilian employees.
• The Golden Gate Bridge linked San Francisco and Marin County, Calif., after just four years and four months of work over one of America’s most unforgiving waterways. Construction began on January 5, 1933. Pedestrians first crossed the bridge on May 27, 1937; cars followed the next day.
• Hoover Dam required five years of construction (1931 to 1936). It was finished two years ahead of schedule.
• It took one year, three months, and nine days to erect the Empire State Building. Between January 22, 1930, and May 1, 1931, a force of 3,439 men built what became — at 1,454 feet — Earth’s tallest skyscraper.
Obama’s endless “study” of Keystone is disgraceful. If he believes it should be built, he should approve it. TransCanada will invest $5.3 billion to build the pipeline. Taxpayer cost: $0.00. While some 10.2 million Americans officially are out of work, KXL will offer direct or indirect employment to an estimated 42,100 people.
“These jobs are really good-paying jobs,” says Union Business Manager magazine. “They provide not only a good living wage, they provide health care, and they also provide pensions.” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky calls KXL “the single largest shovel-ready project in America.”
Beyond the unemployed, all 315 million Americans would enjoy the steady flow of friendly oil from a NATO military ally. Every petrodollar exported to Canada is one less dollar shipped to overseas oil producers — such as terrorist-funding Saudi Arabia, gay-jailing Nigeria, and the Crimea-invading Russian Federation.
If Obama believes that all of these benefits are worth sacrificing so he can appease his comrades on the environmental left, so be it. Canada can build a westbound pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast and send its oil to China via supertankers. Never mind that these floating vessels sometimes crash or sink, to the dismay of sea birds and sand dunes. The Chinese will refine this oil without the precautions of the U.S. Clean Air Act. Their emissions eventually will waft east towards the USA. Americans eager to work on KXL can kiss their dreams goodbye, move on, and do something else with their lives. And voters will weigh these things at the November 4 midterm election.
But after a half-decade of dithering over the Keystone XL Pipeline — longer than Uncle Sam needed to shoehorn Hoover Dam into the Colorado River — Obama needs to make a decision already.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.