On Thursday, Obama is expected to announce that he’s fast-tracking permitting for the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline. For all of those who rejoiced when Obama initially rejected the permit process, you should you have seen this coming. The pipeline IS going to happen. Obama never really said he was rejecting the permit due to concerns about the incredibly destructive source of the Canadian oil, or about long-term environmental concerns about the pipeline itself. Republicans in the House forced his hand to make an up-or-down call, and given Nebraska’s refusal to route the pipeline across the vast Ogallala aquifer, Obama really had no choice. He wasn’t about to approve a pipeline without adequate study of a new route for the northern portion of the pipeline. It would have been giving TransCanada carte blanche to do whatever they pleased, without adequate study of environmental impacts.
It was the right call at the time, but I knew it was a short-term “victory” for environmentalists. When you consider 1) the reasons Obama gave for the initial denial, 2) Obama’s spotty record with regard to environmental issues, and 3) what I see as a complete wimpiness on Obama’s part in terms of resisting political pressures, I figured that eventually that approval would be given and the pipeline would be built. There IS a distribution problem with Canadian oil, and there really aren’t many other options. Obama has also been getting a lot of political heat over the initial refusal for the permit, heat that’s only intensified as gas prices continue to rise (more on that in a bit). It’s not the first time Obama has caved to save his own skin, and from all indications, it won’t be the last.
I honestly don’t have an issue with the pipeline itself. God knows the U.S. is already criss-crossed with many, many thousands of miles of pipelines. It’s a necessary “evil” given how we use energy in the U.S. (and I really don’t think it’s that “evil”). The real issue isn’t the pipeline itself, it’s the source of the oil and the incredible environmental damage in Canada from mining the tar sands for oil, as I’ve said before.
What bugs me about it all is how incredibly ineffective Obama at communicating any kind of environmental message. Republicans are still SO far ahead of the game in terms of setting the agenda for political discussion in the U.S. Somehow, Keystone XL has been directly linked with the rise in gas prices, but Republicans, including Mitt Romney, are bald-faced LIARS when talking about gas prices and what government can supposedly do to lower them. They also KNOW they’re lying about it (don’t ask what I think of a man’s character when they knowingly lie to get ahead). Unfortunately, they also know how completely stupid American voters are, and know it’s a winning issue for them, no matter how much they have to lie about Keystone or gas prices.
Keystone XL, a pipeline coming soon to a location near you! It’s only a matter of time before the Obama administration OK’s the remaining northern portion of the pipeline as well.