Punt: White House to "reassess" Keystone pipeline, postpone decision

Any guesses on how long the decision will be postponed? Here’s a hint: Remember how Obama steadfastly refused any short-term deals during the debt-ceiling standoff, even while he was warning Americans daily that not raising the ceiling would bring about the apocalypse? Oddly enough, he was willing to risk fiscal ruin in order to avoid dealing with the issue again before November 2012.

November 2012 seems awfully important on his calendar for some reason.

The Obama administration will reassess the proposed route through Nebraska for a major pipeline that would carry oil from Canada to Texas, the State Department announced Thursday afternoon, a move that will delay a final decision beyond the 2012 election.

In a statement, the State Department said it has determined it “needs to undertake an in-depth assessment of potential alternative routes in Nebraska … given the concentration of concerns regarding the environmental sensitivities of the current proposed route through the Sand Hills area of Nebraska.”…

Proponents of the pipeline, meanwhile, said the delay would cost Americans jobs and do nothing to address the country’s ongoing dependence on imported oil. Stephen Brown, vice president of government affairs for the Tesoro oil refinery, said Obama was lucky that Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) had come out against the pipeline.

“Terrible decision for the energy future of the country; brilliant decision for the President’s re-election campaign,” Brown wrote in an e-mail. “And the administration owes a debt of thanks to the Republican leaders of Nebraska for providing an escape hatch on this.”

Nebraska Republicans were skittish about the pipeline because it would have crossed an aquifer, but needless to say, it’s the green lobby that’s making Obama nervous, not pressure from the GOP. The Hill minced no words in reporting on this on Sunday: “Environmentalists say a federal permit for TransCanada would sap their appetites for door-knocking, political giving and other work on behalf of Obama next year.” If he ignored them and approved the pipeline, he’d be creating jobs — but then he’d have to make do with maybe $950 million in campaign donations next year instead of a full billion. So he did what he always does: He put his reelection first. No one should be surprised by this. Remember back in February when he rolled out his terrible, terrible budget proposal, which was so timid on entitlement reform that even number-one Obama fan Andrew Sullivan went nuclear on him for it? This guy’s priorities are crystal clear, and top priority is not taking any unnecessary political risks. Same here.

Here’s Krauthammer marveling at how political our pragmatist, post-partisan president can be. Click the image to watch.