Obama Dodges Political Tripwire: Keystone XL Delayed

keystone xxl

Those incumbent Senators banking on the Keystone XL pipeline as a policy boost will be sorely disappointed by the latest delay, but for the President it is likely a release. Last week, the President was drawn and quartered by environmental interests from the liberal base of his supporters, as well as by those Democratic Senators who hoped to push the pipeline construction through and gain votes in their state as a result  — votes desperately needed to keep a majority of Democrats in the Senate. The pipeline has been in limbo for five years so far, but on April 18 the U.S. Department of State alerted other federal agencies that they would be given an extended time period — indefinite — for use in reviewing the proposed pipeline in light of “the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court, which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state,” as well as time to “review and appropriately consider the unprecedented number of public comments, approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment period.”

The Obama administration is being criticized as a result, labor movements particularly up in arms, as well as those Senators whose states would have benefited with jobs and income. “Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country,” said Terry O’Sullivan, the general president of Laborers’ International Union of North America, to Bloomberg. “It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach,” said O’Sullivan, dancing around testicular rhetoric rather poorly.

However, while he isn’t the only one to express frustration at the delay, some believe that that’s all this is — a delay. “The Obama administration is probably looking for a way to not approve it but, given the studies, it is going to get approved. It’s just a matter of timing it right with the elections to ease the wrath of the environmentalists,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital LLC, a hedge fund with an energy focus, to Bloomberg.

As is in their best interests, many Democratic Senators with oil industry states are voicing frustrations and hard words for the Obama Administration, but Republicans are at an advantage, able to instead criticize Democratic Senators for their inability to get the pipeline approved. Brad Dayspring, spokesperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that the delay “reinforces how ineffective, powerless, and without influence senators like Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) are. Last week, they urged President Obama to approve the Keystone Pipeline, and he blatantly ignored them by postponing again a week later,” according to Politico.

Still, while both sides are complaining and looking for ways to politically exploit the delay, it is ultimately a freeze on the decision for now, meaning that other controversial items — such as the well worn Affordable Care Act, will continue to fuel campaigns.

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