No Credible Case Against Keystone
Republicans force President Obama to decide on the pipeline.


Deroy Murdock

To recap:  

Some 160 million Americans will watch their taxes rise about $1,000 each, if the current payroll-tax cut ends on January 1.  

Approximately 2.5 million jobless Americans will see their unemployment benefits run out, if the federal government does not extend them by year’s end.  

The Iranian government this week threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz and cork a key route that oil tankers use to deliver petroleum to an energy-hungry planet.  

President Obama could fix the first two problems and ameliorate the dangers of the third, if he would sign legislation to extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits.  

The sticking point, of course, is Republican language requiring Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport friendly oil from the Canadian oil sands to refineries in Texas. While America moans beneath an 8.6 percent unemployment rate, the pipeline would create 20,000 well-paying jobs in labor-happy industries. That’s why the AFL-CIO and other unions support Keystone.  

Obama and the Democrats claim that Keystone XL is environmentally risky. To hear them speak, Keystone would scar the pristine line separating America from its peaceful neighbor and then despoil sensitive land and habitat across the fruited plains. As this map shows, however, the U.S.-Canadian border and the path the project would take already teem with pipelines:  

While the map above shows pipelines that carry all commodities, those that transport crude oil and refined petroleum products are numerous all by themselves. At least twelve such pipelines already intersect the northern frontier, as this map illustrates:  

Obama and his comrades complain further that Keystone XL would jeopardize the Ogallala Aquifer, a sort of underground Great Lake that runs from South Dakota to Texas. Here again, Democrats might have a point if Keystone XL were the first pipeline to traverse the aquifer. However, as the map below confirms, this is a bit like standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and warning about erosion. Too late!  

So, America either should install Keystone XL, with all of its benefits, or — if such pipelines really are as dangerous as Democrats argue — yank out all these pipelines that could destroy Ogallala.  

Most galling, the U.S. House–approved bill, which the Senate soon will consider, does not require President Obama to endorse Keystone XL. It merely directs him to make a decision on it within 60 days. Under the GOP-backed provision, Obama could kill Keystone XL — but he would have to make up his mind, either way.  

But rather than lead, Obama prefers to straddle. He wants to delay a decision until after the November 2012 election, to avoid offending either Big Labor or the environmental movement. If he can slither quietly between the two, Obama reckons, his reelection prospects grow.  

Agree or disagree with them, the Left used to make valid points, although their solutions usually were wrong. Now, increasingly and especially with Keystone, they have no case, no issue, and no argument other than: “NO!”

New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. 


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