January 24 2014
The Keystone Cop-Out: President Still Finding Ways to Avoid Decision
Quote of the Day
Canadians may be preternaturally measured and polite, but they simply can’t believe how they’ve been treated by President Obama — left hanging humiliatingly on an issue whose merits were settled years ago.
That’s Charles Krauthammer this morning on President Obama’s refusal to say one way or other about the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would create American jobs and bring us energy from a friendly nation. Moreover, Keystone has been vetted and re-vetted and cleared and re-cleared in environmental impact studies. Krauthammer calls the administration the Keystone Cops, always demanding yet another environmental impact study.
This has been going on since long before the 2012 presidential election, when the president obviously felt that he could neither alienate the environmentalist left, which opposes the project on quasi-religious grounds, nor nix a project that would provide employment in an anemic economy. But the election is over and still he won’t decide.
Canada, as Krauthammer writes, is the “Saudi Arabia of oil sands” and the U.S. is its natural partner. But the U.S.—that would be the president—has refused to decide one way or other about the Keystone pipeline. The Canadian foreign minister said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week that his country could not “continue in this state of limbo.”
The president is lacking in courage and he is also treating an ally with supreme disrespect (so what else is new?):
If Obama wants to cave to his environmental Left, he should go ahead. But why keep Canada in limbo? It’s a show of supreme and undeserved disrespect for yet another ally.
It seems not enough to have given the back of the hand to Britain, Israel, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and to have so enraged the Saudis that they actually rejected a Security Council seat — disgusted as they were with this administration’s remarkable combination of fecklessness and highhandedness.
Must we crown this run of diplomatic malpractice with gratuitous injury to Canada, our most reliable, most congenial friend in the world?
And for what? This is not a close call. The Keystone case is almost absurdly open and shut….
The only rationale for denying the pipeline is political — to appease Obama’s more extreme environmentalists. For a president who claims not to be ideological, the irony is striking: Here is an easily available piece of infrastructure — privately built, costing government not a penny, creating thousands of jobs and, yes, shovel ready — and yet the president, who’s been incessantly pushing new “infrastructure” as a fundamental economic necessity, can’t say yes.
The Keystone XL pipeline would be safer than the rail transportation that is currently used. Maverick Democrat Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia has said that the president’s non-decision on Keystone “doesn’t make any sense.”
But it does make sense. The president’s heart belongs to the rich environmentalists in places such as San Francisco. That the nation suffers from his refusal is secondary—and, besides, I think he is counting on leaving office without telling us one way or other about Keystone. There is always the prospect of another environmental study to stave off having to make a decision.