Let the Keystone XL become a realityThe Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. House show a trait that infuriates President Barack Obama: They refuse to compromise
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
The Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. House show a trait that infuriates President Barack Obama: They refuse to compromise.
And Obama relentlessly scolds the GOP about this. The party must stop heeding its extremists, who refuse to bend and who brook no arguments with their ideology, Obama claims.
But the GOP isn’t the only party with extremists. The president is about to run headfirst into his own uncompromising wing: Radical environmentalists, who keep protesting the Keystone XL pipeline even after their all their arguments have collapsed.
This week, the governor of Nebraska approved the pipeline, pulling the last real-world obstacle out of the pipeline’s path. So, the way has been cleared for Obama to do what a bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators, among others, suggests: Approve the pipeline, thereby ensuring America’s energy security by boosting our country’s access to Canadian oil.
Obama’s quick to tell Republicans that they should dismiss the views of their most extreme members. Now, the president should have the courage to do the same, heeding his own party’s mainstream and rejecting those who predict catastrophe if the pipeline goes through.
Environmentalists made an early point about pipeline’s threat to Nebraska’s Sand Hills. But the route now approved by Gov. Dave Heineman skirts the Sand Hills, thus eliminating that threat.
All that remains is the pipeline’s supposed threat to climate change. But the U.S. State Department’s own evaluation, which was developed in close consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and said that this threat was minimal.
And no wonder, as Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson has explained.
“Stopping the pipeline won’t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed,” Samuelson wrote last year. (As the State Department evaluation puts it, “The proposed project is not likely to impact the amount of crude oil produced from the oil sands.”) “Therefore,” Samuelson continued, “there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obama’s decision might add to them.
“If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.”
Along those lines, if the tar-sands oil gets refined in Texas, the process is certain to emit much less CO2 than if the refining takes place in China.
In other words, the Keystone Pipeline’s construction won’t affect the reality of climate change. So, blocking it would be a victory for environmental symbolism only.
And symbolism isn’t enough — as Obama repeatedly told Republicans, who refused to raise taxes because of the imagery — not the impact — of their vote.
“Projects like the Keystone pipeline won’t just create jobs, they will decrease our dependence on foreign oil from the Middle East and help drive down our crushing national debt,” said U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., last year.
“As North Dakota’s U.S. senator, I will fight alongside Sen. John Hoeven to reverse this wrong-headed decision and put building the Keystone pipeline on the fast track — even if it means upsetting members of my own party.” The president should follow the freshman senator’s example and show the same resolve.