It’s all over the place this afternoon that the Obama White House will be rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline by the end of the day. Apparently they’ll put out some gobbledygook about how the State Department needs time to review the new route through Nebraska in terms of environmental impact (they’ve already had three years to do that), and they’ll also say that they’ve got to reject the pipeline project because the mean Republicans in Congress forced their hand by imposing an arbitrary deadline.
All of which is bullshit. Obama doesn’t want that pipeline built because his masters among the environmental kook lobby don’t want it built. Those clowns believe in global warming and they think that somehow if Keystone XL isn’t built the Canadians won’t be able to expand oil production out of the tar sands in Alberta. Which is breathtakingly absurd given that the Canadians have already said if the pipeline doesn’t go south to Texas, it’ll go west to Vancouver and deliver syncrude to tankers headed for China.
And when the Chinese buy oil, it’s no longer fungible. China has a mercantilist policy on oil; once they buy it, it’s off the market. It goes for their consumption; not for resale.
Naturally, the reaction has been pretty brutal. A sampling from a few Louisiana sources…
“This announcement comes as a huge disappointment, not only for the state of Louisiana, but for the entire country. This project has the potential to generate over 20,000 jobs for our national economy, in a time where unemployment numbers have reached record levels.” That’s from Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. Briggs continued, “The Obama administration touts the importance of becoming less dependent on foreign oil, so a decision such as denying the Keystone XL project completely contradicts their stated position.”
Rep. Rodney Alexander wasn’t happy, either.
“After months of delaying a decision on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline, the administration finally revealed its sobering choice to block the energy project.
“This worthy initiative sought to create thousands of well-paying jobs, and it would have provided another source of energy from a friendly and reliable trade partner. Shutting the door on Keystone, unfortunately, shuts the door on these major aspirations for our country. Once again, the president is caught putting politics over our economy and energy security.”
And then there was Sen. David Vitter’s reaction…
“The president’s decision to reject Keystone XL is infuriating to many of us who have been fighting to create real private sector jobs. Lately the only jobs Washington seems to know how to create are more government jobs. Even the president’s own ‘jobs council’ recommended the country should reinvigorate the economy through more domestic energy production including expediting pipeline permits. But again, the stubborn environmentalist agenda is being recklessly placed before job creation, economic growth and national security.”
Rep. Bill Cassidy…
“President Obama’s own economic advisors believe that pipeline construction is critical to the creation of America jobs. Yet, the Obama Administration has decided to reject the advice of their own experts at the expense of the American worker.
“The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is a loss for our economy and our energy security. The construction of the pipeline would have created at least 20,000 direct, blue collar American jobs and more than 100,000 indirect jobs. It would cut in half the amount of oil we import from the Middle East and Venezuela, decreasing the cost of gasoline.
“House Republicans will continue pushing the Obama Administration to reconsider this decision and do the right thing for American workers.”
Elsewhere, the reaction’s even worse. You get the drift.
One wonders whether today’s announcement is anything new. Remember that Obama had initially delayed a decision on Keystone XL until after the election; that was seen as an act of pure political cowardice, and a sign that there was no way he would approve it since if he was going to do so the smart answer would be to build it immediately and get the 20,000-50,000 direct and indirect jobs it would create up and running in time to brag on his economic record.
What happened between then and now? Well, Bill Daley – who was seen as one of the best pro-business guys the Democrat Party could find – became an ex-chief of staff. It’s worth theorizing that Daley was the one standing in the way of a full rejection of Keystone XL amid the left-wing fantasists populating the Obama White House and maybe he managed to at least keep the project alive as long as he could. But once Daley was gone Obama was free to jump off a political cliff with the enviroloons.
It’s also worth asking whether maybe this decision shouldn’t split the union movement down the middle. If you’re a union member working in the private sector, what do you have in common with public sector union people in light of this decision? How does somebody who’s in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (an AFL-CIO affiliate), who would have gotten a tremendous amount of work out of Keystone XL, look at Richard Trumka and see him as an effective advocate for that cause? How does a Teamster look at Kid Jimmy Hoffa and his lockstep support of Obama and the negative result for jobs the Keystone decision creates and say Hoffa has their best interest at heart?
Obama just shaved off whatever Reagan Democrat support he might have had left. An unforced error, to be sure.
Here’s a thought, since the political stupidity of blocking this pipeline is all but legendary.
Maybe what the GOP ought to do, since Obama is now asking for a trillion-dollar debt limit increase AGAIN, is to deny that debt limit increase without a reversal of this Keystone XL decision.
Straight-up blackmail Obama on Keystone XL.
Why not? The majority of the public wants that pipeline built. The majority of the public wants the borrowing to stop.
It’s an election year. Tie the two together, and turn up the heat on him. If there’s a partial government shutdown, so be it.
The fact is, there won’t be. Obama will cave at the first sign of GOP strength. Because the more irritated the public would be over a partial shutdown, the worse it is for him. Even if Congress bears the brunt of the blame, the approval ratings for Congress are so bad they really can’t even get worse. But while folks hate Congress, they generally like their Congressman. And there are still a lot more Republican districts than Democrat districts; that’s just the way it is.
Obama can’t afford a Mexican standoff on the budget while he’s running for re-election. He’s vulnerable on this because he knows the public is against him on Keystone XL. Worse for him, there are lots of Democrats out there who will abandon him on Keystone XL. And that ain’t good.
It would be brazen, cynical, hardball politics to blackmail Obama on Keystone XL. But he’s earned that treatment in spades. Give it to him and make him choose between dispiriting his environmental kook campaign donors and looking like an anti-American incompetent. He’ll scream bloody murder about it, and he’ll look weak in doing so.
Folks don’t vote to re-elect weak presidents.