Keystone Pipeline Decision Could Come During Midterms

by Katherine Connell

Canada may soon get its long-awaited answer on whether it will be allowed to complete construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Obama administration is set to complete a critical phase of its Keystone XL pipeline review next month, setting the stage for President Barack Obama to make a call on the politically charged decision in the thick of the midterm campaign season.

The State Department, which has been studying the project for years, aims to release a report on the environmental impact of the proposed pipeline extension in early or mid-February, people inside and outside the government familiar with the decision said Thursday. That would put Mr. Obama on track to make a decision by May or June.

The White House and the State Department have both refused in the past to give a timetable on when the repeatedly delayed decision might be made. (The president has to make the final call after the State Department has finished with its reviews.) President Obama has been loath to antagonize either environmentalists or unions, two key Democratic constituencies on opposing sides of the issue.

Red-state Democrats have been pushing for a decision: “This has gone on way too long,” Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), told the Journal. “I can tell you this, among those of us who’ve been waiting now for a considerable length of time, our patience is running thin.”

They’re also threatening that they won’t take no for an answer:

Some Senate Democrats locked in tough re-election fights, among them Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, have said they might file legislation seeking to overturn the ruling if Mr. Obama reject the pipeline.

“At the end of the day, we may just have to push this issue pretty hard,” Mr. Begich said in an interview.