Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Will Obama punt on the Keystone pipeline?

When faced with a wedge issue that divides Obama's union and environmentalist supporters, apparently the Obama administration is considering just punting.
The Obama administration is considering a move that could delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline by requiring sponsors to reduce the project's environmental risks before it can be approved, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.

The step might put off a decision until after the 2012 election and be a way for the White House to at least temporarily avoid antagonizing either the unions that support the pipeline or the environmental activists who oppose it as President Obama gears up for his campaign.
Now that is real leadership!

As the Examiner points out, President Obama laments that we have lost our ambition, our -- our imagination, and -- and -- our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge." Oh please. As the Examiner reminds us, the Golden Gate Bridge was built by private enterprise despite government opposition. But today, the climate for massive construction projects is much different.
Obama is almost certainly correct in doubting that grand projects like the Golden Gate Bridge could be done today, but not for the reasons he would want to acknowledge. For proof, we need look no further than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that TransCanada first proposed in 2008. The company wants to spend $7 billion in private capital to build the pipeline. It would transport crude oil produced in Canada's Alberta tar sands region to refineries in Texas. Not only would U.S. dependence on OPEC nations for oil be significantly reduced, building the pipeline would also, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, create as many as 435,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2035.

But incessant delays since 2008 caused by the cumbersome permitting process and environmental impact assessments have put the project in jeopardy. Even if federal officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar, and, finally, President Obama, ever get around to approving the project, TransCanada will then face additional years of costly litigation by extraordinarily well-funded Big Green environmental groups. As The Examiner's Conn Carroll points out on page 27, such groups are empowered by the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) to stop any project so long as they can find an un-dotted "i" or improperly crossed "t" in an Environmental Impact Statement and a sympathetic federal judge to issue an injunction.
If Obama allows the decision to be delayed until after the election on the pipeline, he will be demonstrating that, when it comes to jobs versus environmentalist demands, he will ignore the jobs in favor of appeasing his environmentalist supporters.


tfhr said...

Yet another shameful and utterly predictable situation made possible by electing a man to serve in the White House when he has already demonstrated over and over again that he would vote "present" whenever he could avoid taking a stand on a controversial point.

Leadership indeed.

Pat Patterson said...

The Examiner is off base here as much of the opposition came from the local ferry operators and the railroads. The only opposition from the government came from the War Department which feared the fleet could be trapped inside the Bay for months in case of an accident or sabotage. Once they were reassured by the designers and surveyors hired by SF, Santa Rosa and Californi they approved and even donated some of the land on the SF side that was part of the Presidio.

Most of the money was in a large bond measure that sold poorly, remember this was during the Depression, until Giannini of Bank of America stepped in and bought most of the bonds.

A bit of trivia. In the early 50's my dad was a local high school coach and very friendly with the district manager of the BofA in Long Beach. We got to go down into the basement of the building and saw the old Bank of Italy signs and the huge portrait of AP Giannini and another one of equal size of Benito Mussolini. The former had been the victim of remodeling and the bank had taken Mussolini's portrait out of the lobby in 1934.

equitus said...

Great story, Pat. It's good to remember that European Fascists were openly praised by Democrats in the US in the 20s and 30s. Jonah Goldberg documents this thoroughly in his book Liberal Fascism.

Pat Patterson said...

Well, in this particular case, Gianinni was a Republican and had supported Roosevelt as a member of the Bull Moose and later supported Hiram Johnson though no one has ever found one single piece of evidence that aside from the portraits that he or the bank supported the fascists at all.