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article imageOp-Ed: State Department provides Obama cover on Keystone project

By Larry Clifton     Mar 2, 2013 in Politics
Washington - A new government report may force the Obama administration to find reasons other than environmental concerns to block construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, or to approve its construction.
Blocking the project has left tens of thousands of union workers in the cold across the U.S. and Canada. However a new State Department report finds that environmental impact from building the pipeline would be insignificant.
Not only does the report dismiss the Obama administration’s environmental concerns about the Keystone XL project, it says other options for moving oil to the Gulf Coast would impact the environment more harshly.
Meanwhile, the project's supporters immediately said the report provides more evidence that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of the issue and that the pipeline’s construction should be approved at the president’s earliest convenience.
Canada relies heavily on U.S. energy exports and most Canadians approve of of the pipeline project.
The new report "again makes clear there is no reason for this critical pipeline to be blocked one more day," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. After four years of what he called "needless delays," Boehner said it is time for President Barack Obama "to stand up for middle-class jobs and energy security and approve the Keystone pipeline."
By blocking the pipeline’s construction, Mr. Obama has wedged himself between key left-leaning factions, including big unions and environmental activists. Construction of the pipeline would create a jobs bonanza in the U.S. if allowed to proceed. Union workers hit hard by high unemployment and shrinking memberships desperately need the work.
Unfortunately for the White House, another large pipeline of votes that Democrats take for granted, environmental activists, oppose the Keystone XL project and claim it will accelerate climate change.
While the report stopped short of recommending the project, the document gives Mr. Obama the political cover he needs to endorse the pipeline despite opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups.
To date, Mr. Obama has sided with environmentalists about the pipeline’s effect on climate change by banning northern segments of construction. However Democrats beholden to unions have complained along with Republicans who support the pipeline for jobs and energy independence.
The pipeline plan has sparked debate over climate change, however pipeline proponents see the State Department report as a signal that Mr. Obama intends to switch sides and approve the project.
The State Department must approve the 1,700-mile pipeline since it crosses a U.S. border. Secretary of State John Kerry, recently appointed by Barack Obama, will make a recommendation about whether the pipeline is in the national interest.
Kerry, who says he will conduct a "fair and transparent" review of the plan, says he hopes to decide on the project in the "near term." Political analysts don’t expect Kerry to announce his decision before this summer.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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