Obama administration grants permit for part of the Keystone pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline debacle of last winter was a prime example of Team Obama’s precarious position with the environmental lobby. Environmentalists generally have a vociferous hatred for all things oil-related, and dubiously cited possible terrestrial leakages and increased carbon emissions as the too-dire-to-even-consider consequences of allowing TransCanada’s pipeline project to move forward. The obvious counter for the pipelines’ proponents, of course, was that the pipeline would instantly create productive private-sector jobs, encourage economic growth, and decrease our dependence on less-than-friendly oil sources. What’s a president to do?

The Obama administration decided they wanted to have their cake and eat it too, so they thought they’d punt on the approval until after the election, claiming that more research was necessary — even though the State Department had already concluded that the project was a good one. This provided a practically giftwrapped opportunity for Republicans to hammer President Obama on his political dithering when the economy is in real trouble, and there was so much bad PR for the White House they decided they did indeed need to do something, anything — but preferably nothing too drastic that would overexcite the greenies. Ergo, in March the president announced he’d do everything humanly possible to expedite the review process. Looks like they’re at least partially, albeit oh-so-cautiously, following through on bits and pieces of that promise:

The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday told TransCanada, which wants to build a 1,700-mile pipeline to carry heavy crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, that it could begin construction on the portion of the proposed pipeline that would end at the gulf port of Nederland, Tex. The Corps of Engineers is still reviewing permits for a section of the pipeline beginning at a major oil depot in Cushing, Okla., and linking up with the final leg ending at the gulf. …

TransCanada said Tuesday that it welcomed the permits and was awaiting approvals from the two other Corps of Engineers districts that must rule on the remaining 400 miles of pipeline route beginning in Cushing. …

Environmental advocates and some local landowner groups strongly opposed the pipeline, citing the dangers of possible spills and saying that the oil it would carry, extracted from tar sands formations in northern Canada, was a major contributor to greenhouse gas pollution.

TransCanada may be resigned to taking what they can get, but I’m sure as heck not — how is the Obama administration still able to pretend that this has anything to do with the review process? We all know it’s just about trying to have it both ways and fly under the radar until after November. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: President Obama likes to chide Republicans that “we can’t wait!” for jobs, but we apparently can and will wait for President Obama to secure his second term, whether we like it or not.

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