Bipartisan senators: Do not delay the Keystone pipeline into 2014

Last week, the Obama administration announced that, most unfortunately, it very much looks like the long-delayed Keystone pipeline decision is going to have to be delayed still further, probably into early 2014. The State Department is being ultra-fastidious with this review process, you understand, and new revelations via an inspector general probe about a potential conflict of interest in the department’s selection of a contractor analyzing the project mean that this administration intends to follow through on its pristine record of avoiding anything untoward in their methodology.

In response to the news, a group of four senators have a message for the administration: Cut the crap already.

Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), all pipeline backers, together issued statements Thursday criticizing the potential for more delays in the five-year federal review.

“This tactic of delay and deferral must stop. It is depriving America of jobs, hurting the American economy and hurting the American people,” Hoeven said in one of the statements, which underscore efforts by pipeline backers to keep political pressure on the White House.

The senators noted that an earlier phase of the IG’s inquiry into a third-party contractor’s environmental review gave the project a basically clean bill of health in early 2012. …

“We cannot sit by while excuse after excuse delays jobs in Montana and across the country,” Baucus said. “We’ve had years of studies and the President’s own State Department has repeatedly concluded the environment won’t be harmed. It’s past time to put Americans to work building the Keystone pipeline.”

The Keystone pipeline, by the way, won’t just be transporting oil from Canada; it will accommodate oil from Montana and North Dakota, too, and is representative of the major expansion of pipeline infrastructure the United States is going to need over the coming years to adequately service the rising oil and gas boom.

Funnily enough, ahem, the oil and gas boom has largely been the Obama administration’s economic saving grace in the face of stagnation and shrinkage in other industries. While I’m sure the White House will gladly talk up the recently expected rise in GDP for the second quarter, I feel that, in the same vein that I mentioned when wondering earlier this week why President Obama has yet to visit North Dakota, he won’t get too vocal about the driving factor behind it. He’s all too happy to take credit for the industry’s increased and thriving activities (neglecting to mention that the increases have largely occurred on state and private lands while his administration continues to block access to requested areas), but only in the context that he add some very misleading addenda about how his renewable- and efficiency-visions have been so very successful. Ahem, also via The Hill:

Two of President Obama’s top economic advisers are crediting increasing petroleum production with the rosier estimate for second quarter economic performance announced this week.

“This is yet another reminder that the President’s focus on increasing America’s energy independence is not just a critical national security strategy, it is also part of an economic plan to create jobs, expand growth and cut the trade deficit,” Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

The United States petroleum trade deficit hit a record low in June as booming domestic oil production displaced imports and exports of refined petroleum products increased.

That played a significant role in revising U.S. gross domestic product growth in the second quarter to 2.5, up from 1.7 percent, said Furman and Sperling.

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