Barack Obama is busy, busy, scattering largesse to the populace. Whatever he can say to win votes — he’ll say it. His address in Denver yesterday included not only the announcement of his highly impactful student loan program reforms, but also a testy reassurance that he’s taking into consideration concerns about a proposed pipeline — the Keystone XL — that would run from Canada to Texas:
During an event with young people in Denver, one activist interrupted Obama’s remarks, urging the president to reject the project.
“We’re looking at it right now, all right?” Obama replied. “No decision’s been made and I know your deep concern about it, so we will address it.”
Protesters who held up a banner reading: “Stop the Keystone Pipeline Project” were asked to leave.
Obama has been none too popular with his environmentalist constituency lately — not least because he hired Broderick Johnson, a former lobbyist for the Keystone XL, to be a senior adviser to his campaign. Given that, it’s difficult to envision Obama overriding the countless anti-pipeline protesters — including a number of celebrities — to throw his weight behind the Keystone project. He’ll probably just continue to hear their concerns and delay a decision.
But consider: By the Department of Energy’s own admission, access to Canadian oil sands could significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Some supporters for the pipeline have even made the case that construction and use of the pipeline is more ethical than the continued purchase of oil from a country that discriminates against women. Environmentalists insist the pipeline poses a risk to endangered species because spills could occur — but a State Department report has shown that to be unlikely. (Incidentally, in response to that report, three environmental groups sued the U.S. government this past Tuesday — another element of the Keystone drama that seems likely to push Obama to the left on this issue.) Perhaps most importantly, the pipeline will be a vehicle for the creation of thousands of jobs — the president’s purported top priority.
The only reason for Obama not to support the pipeline project is that it might cost him a few votes with lefty enviros. Oh, right. So, never mind. No wonder he’s delaying his decision.