My how time flies, eh? This Friday marked a rather sad anniversary in the history of American energy policy, and I didn’t even receive a Hallmark card in the mail. It’s now been six years that we’ve sat on the fence, watching the debate over the Keystone pipeline play out in an embarrassing fashion. On September 19, 2008, Canada applied for permission from the US State Department to begin construction. Anyone taking a strong, principled stand on the issue – no matter which side they support – should have been able to gather all of the scientific data in a reasonable amount of time and settle the matter for better or worse. But the Obama administration has chosen a niddering path, fearful of the political ramifications with their own base if they approved it, while dreading the response from tens of millions of jobless Americans if they took a firm, liberal stance and shot the proposal down. A few of the notable highlights follow.
October 15, 2010. Then Sec-State Hillary Clinton, speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, says they are “inclined to sign off” on the extension. Not on the pipeline, mind you. Just on an extension to keep the ball in the air.
August 26, 2011. The State Department releases its “final” Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline, finding that any negative effects from construction would be minimal. The irony of the world final in the title is lost on nobody.
December 23, 2011. After previously stating that he would make no decision until after the next elections, Republicans pass a bill requiring the President to make a decision within 60 days and Obama signs it into law.
January 18, 2012. Already more than three years into the long march – and after being forced to make a move, Barack Obama rejects the application. But it wasn’t a rejection rejection. He artfully left open the door for Canada to reapply. He didn’t want to make “a judgment on the merits of the pipeline.” But isn’t it an odd coincidence of timing that, yet again, he couldn’t come up with an answer ten months before an election?
May 4, 2012. TransCanada submits yet another application, but by this time they are already in talks with China in case the deal with the US goes sour.
January 31, 2014: The State Department spits out its final Environment Impact Statement on the pipeline. (And this time we REALLY mean final.) It essentially just repeats the earlier assessment stating that the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact.
March 7, 2014. A Washington Post / ABC poll shows that 65% of Americans now support approval of the pipeline.
April 21, 2014. Even Mika Brzezinski finally gives up and runs out of reasons why further delay could be justified.
May 7, 2014. Numerous Democrats, including some of the most vulnerable election season targets such as Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Udall And Mark Begich, vote with Harry Reid to kill yet another vote on the pipeline. Jazz Shaw begins drinking heavily. (Okay… “begins” is perhaps a bit of a euphemism.)
And now, with a couple of months to go before yet another election, we are right where we were in 2009 and 2010. No closer to a decision, but much closer to China walking away with the deal. Congratulations, Democrats. Victory is within your reach at last.