Politics & Policy

Make Up Your Mind on Keystone!

Obama's indecision about the pipeline traps Americans in amber.


That word perfectly describes Obama’s “policy” on the Keystone XL pipeline. That this adjective rolled off the tongue of a union boss makes it as delicious as it is accurate.

“In another gutless move, the Administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “This certainly is no example of profiles in courage. It’s clear the Administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”

Terry O’Sullivan is right. And so are the eleven Senate Democrats who wrote Obama on April 10 to express their exasperation with his relentless dithering on this vital matter.

“This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope. It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify,” reads the letter, signed by Alaska’s Mark Begich, North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, Arkansas’s Mark Pryor, and eight others. As they specify, this situation “has involved two applications, five federal reviews, multiple open comment periods, and numerous opportunities for consultation and comment at either public forums or at staff-level meetings.”

Any piece of paper on Obama’s desk that bears the word “Keystone” surely gets emblazoned by a rubber stamp that reads, “Continue the research.”

On September 19, 2008, TransCanada first applied to build Keystone. Its paperwork arrived a bit late for President George W. Bush’s endorsement. Besides, Bush was busy nationalizing companies back then. So Obama then tackled this matter — at the speed of molasses. He subsequently has raised the paralysis of analysis to a fine art.

In the five years and three months that Obama has pondered Keystone, FDR could have built almost four Pentagons. President Roosevelt needed just 16 months to erect what remains — at 6.5 million square feet — Earth’s largest office building.

There are at least 42,000 reasons to approve Keystone. The U.S. State Department expects 16,100 direct construction jobs. Another 26,000 indirect spots await Americans who would fabricate steel pipes, produce “yellow iron” earth-moving equipment, and sell Keystone’s workers everything from hot food to cool drinks.

Buying friendly Canadian oil enriches our NATO allies next door while channeling petrodollars away from misogynists in Saudi Arabia and Marxists in Venezuela. And increased supplies decrease the price of petroleum. This should help Vladimir Putin focus on his budget rather than the Ukrainian frontier.

If none of this persuades Obama, fine. If he disagrees, he should have the guts to stand up and simply kill the pipeline.

If Obama believes that Americans waiting for work should keep waiting, then he should say so. If he thinks their ongoing unemployment is a necessary price to pay to prevent Keystone from exacerbating so-called “global warming” (even though the State Department concluded otherwise), then Obama should man up and make that argument.

If Obama decides that Keystone is kaput, then Montanans, Nebraskans, and Kansans who had counted on it can give up and seek hope and change elsewhere. The Canadians can forget about Texas and forward their oil to China (which would refine it without the strictures of the Clean Air Act). Meanwhile, Putin can relax. Oil prices will stay high at least a while longer.

Rather than approval or rejection, Obama offers the worst of all worlds: Suspended animation. He has made uncertainty a destination. Nobody knows where this is going. So North Americans sit around, doing NOTHING. We move neither forward nor backward. Americans and Canadians resemble ancient flies, frozen forever in amber.

Some observers find this cute, somehow, as Obama simultaneously teases the environmental and labor wings of the Democratic base. Each faction expects a diamond ring from Obama after November’s midterm election. This is pathetic. Obama’s stunning refusal to lead — in any direction — constitutes dereliction of duty.

This is what America bought when it elected and (inexplicably) reelected a coward who, on 129 separate occasions in Illinois’s state senate, voted “present.”

— 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.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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