Obama Keystone Pipeline Delay ‘Gutless,’ Union Official Says

Delaying the Keystone pipeline approval once again was gutless. That was the assessment of Laborers’ International Union of America President Terry O’Sullivan, who represents a large and growing construction workers union.

The State Department (which is involved because of the pipeline runs through Canada and the US) claims that a pending lawsuit in Nebraska is part of the reason for another round of studies. In the eyes of many observers, the further delay is actually all about politics, similar to the way the Obamacare employer mandate for big business was pushed to 2015 so it won’t kick-in prior to the upcoming Congressional elections. Speculation has particularly focused on one influential billionaire who has vowed to bankroll anti-Keystone Democrats seeking reelection this year.

Previous State Department studies have cleared the pipeline of significant environmental concerns.

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 65 percent of Americans support building the pipeline.

As a favored constituency, organized labor almost monolithically gives tons of money, manpower, and other forms of support to the Democrats. Punting on the pipeline has hardly been well received across the ideological spectrum, however. Said Sullivan about yet another postponement from the Obama State Department:

“This is once again politics at its worst. In another gutless move, the Administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest based on months-old litigation in Nebraska regarding a state level challenge to a state process — and which has nothing to with the national interest. They waited until Good Friday, believing no one would be paying attention. The only surprise is they didn’t wait to do it in the dark of night. It’s not the oil that’s dirty, it’s the politics. Once again, the Administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. 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. This is another low blow to the working men and women of our country for whom the Keystone XL Pipeline is a lifeline to good jobs and energy security.”

A number of labor unions have also registered their disapproval with the way Obamacare has been implemented.

The editorial board of the Washington Post, a publication that usually supports the Obama agenda, blasted the decision not to decide after the project has been in limbo for five years:

“If foot-dragging were a competitive sport, President Obama and his administration would be world champions for their performance in delaying the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Last Friday afternoon, the time when officials make announcements they hope no one will notice, the State Department declared that it is putting off a decision on Keystone XL indefinitely — or at least, it seems, well past November’s midterm elections … At this point, there is little doubt about the big picture. After two thorough environmental analyses, State Department experts determined that the pipeline’s impact probably would be minimal, even on climate change-inducing carbon dioxide emissions. The economic rewards of extracting Canadian oil are too attractive and the options for getting it out of the country are too numerous. We would rather see Canadian crude traveling a well-built, well-regulated pipeline in the United States than on the rail cars, barges and ocean tankers that will move it until cheaper options inevitably come online… The administration’s latest decision is not responsible; it is embarrassing. The United States continues to insult its Canadian allies by holding up what should have been a routine permitting decision amid a funhouse-mirror environmental debate that got way out of hand. The president should end this national psychodrama now, bow to reason, approve the pipeline and go do something more productive for the climate.”

When it comes to moving forward or not with the pipeline, there are always going to be lawsuits from environmentalists; the Nebraska case is likely just going to be one of many. Editorialized the Chicago Tribune: “This project — already five years in discussions — would link oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta to American ports and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. It would make the North American energy industry more efficient. It would improve safety by delivering oil via pipeline rather than the current, riskier practice of shipping it by train. It would put people to work… The State Department doesn’t have to wait for Nebraska to settle its state legal wrangling. The State Department should make its decision on national interest now, so when the dust settles in Nebraska, this energy-driving, job-producing project, can, finally, become a reality.”

As alluded to above, there has been much speculation that the Keystone postponement was made to placate a fat-cat anti-Keystone campaign donor. “The Koch brothers may get the media attention, but the billionaire getting the most political bang for his buck is Tom Steyer. The hedge-fund politico has pledged to raise $100 million to help Democrats keep the Senate, and on Friday he received a major return on his investment when the State Department again delayed its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.”

It seems that US Sen. Harry Reid and Democrats bemoan money in politics when it applies to the Koch brothers making hefty campaign contributions and supporting political causes. When billionaires such as Steyer or George Soros or other progressive one-percenters are handing out the cash, however, it’s okay with them.

Eleven US Senate Democrats support the Keystone pipeline, including five up for reelection, support the Keystone pipeline, so it will interesting to see if they accept campaign donations from Steyer or other allied environmental activist groups in the run-up to the 2014 Congressional elections.

Said US Sen. Mary Landrieu, (D-La.) — who is facing a difficult reelection challenge — on Friday, “Today’s decision by the Administration amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay of the Keystone Pipeline. This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable. By making it clear that they will not move the process forward until there is a resolution in a lawsuit in Nebraska, the administration is sending a signal that the small minority who oppose the pipeline can tie up the process in court forever. There are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity and North America’s energy security at stake.”

Energy independence is a component of national security as well as economic security. That being said, given how politicized this debate has become, do you think the Keystone XL pipeline will ever be built?

[image credit: shannonpatrick]