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Obama Votes "Present" on 20,000 Jobs

The furor over fracking aside, the large environmental controversy du jour is the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry “dirty” fuel from the Canadian tar sands to waiting markets and refineries in the U.S. The past few months have seen the administration vacillate repeatedly on the issue, and it has just announced that it is putting off any decision until after next year’s election. From the New York Times:

The Obama administration, under sharp pressure from officials in Nebraska and restive environmental activists, announced Thursday that it would review the route of the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline, effectively delaying any decision about its fate until after the 2012 election. […]

The move is the latest in a series of administration decisions pushing back thorny environmental matters beyond next November’s presidential election to try to avoid the heat from opposing interests — business lobbies or environmental and health advocates — and to find a political middle ground. President Obama delayed a review of the nation’s smog standard until 2013, pushed back offshore oil lease sales in the Arctic until at least 2015 and blocked new regulations for coal ash from power plants.

The President may think he’s dodging a bullet by putting off his decision until after the election, but he has given the GOP a big pre-Christmas present, one that will go on giving as long as unemployment is a major political issue.

The nexus of environmental policy and jobs has been a kind of Bermuda Triangle for this administration, where good intentions go awry and the best laid plans misfire.  The failure of Solyndra demonstrated the poverty of “green jobs” initiatives, while the economic success of states like North Dakota and Texas are a testament to the continued effectiveness of old-style brown jobs. The President may be retreating from his failed green jobs plans, but still appears reluctant to embrace the more successful brown ones.

If times are good by 2012, voters may vote their green hopes.  If the economy is (as seems likely) still a problem, they will be voting their less verdant fears.  This may be one can the White House will come to regret having kicked down the road.

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  • Kenny

    I hope America can now see that it elected an incompentent fool as president in 2008.

  • Stephen

    A big gift? With all the other gifts the administration has given the GOP it is difficult to see it in the pile. But not to give it risks alienating further a core part of the administration’s base. At least making no decision gives it room to try and have it both ways. Who knows? They may pull it off or get lucky and have the Canadian side cancel.

  • Anthony

    Keystone KL oil pipline decision (non decision) is certainly not President Obama’s finest leadership moment – a political decision made year before presidential election. You’re right WRM a replica of voting present.

  • Doug

    “environmental controversy”?? It looks more like payback to one of Obama’s favorite crony capitalists – Warren Buffet! So how will the oil be shipped to Louisiana? Mr. Buffet’s railroad – BSNF. They just raised rates 10%; current capacity is 100,000b/d which will be expanded to 250,000b/d. What state is Mr. Buffet from? Google a pipeline map of Nebraska – miles of pipelines. What is the emmissions and risk profile of a pipeline vs. a railroad? In North Dakota they are drilling right thru the aquifer.

  • J. F. Smith

    Maybe he wants to decide on the side of the green lobby, and can’t stand to take the heat from the rest of the 99% who care about the environment AND the economy. He’ll wait to cancel the the pipeline after the election. Even if he loses the election?

  • standfast24

    Pandering to “know nothing” environmentalists, Hollywood fundraisers and NIMBY farmers.
    But typical of the administration that leads from behind.

  • beedubya

    WRM wrote, “but he has given the GOP a big pre-Christmas present, one that will go on giving as long as unemployment is a major political issue.”

    This is the GOP we’re talking about here. They’re not known as “the stupid party” without reason. They could could hammer Obama on myriad issues, but they won’t.

    Arguably the biggest scandal in our history,the cause of the economic meltdown, can directly be traced to collusion among Democrats on Wall St. in Congress, in regulatory roles, at Fannie and Freddie, etc., but we never hear a goddamned peep out of anyone in the GOP about that.

    Another good reason for the “stupid party” sobriquet, GOP nominee for President, Mitt Romney.

  • Poppavein

    Sounds like blackmail. “Vote for me or the Republicans will decide the fate of the pipeline!”

  • mark l.

    my first question, at the next presser…

    “in you decision to delay the project, how many jobs did your people tell you it would create?”

    ‘i don’t know’ would actually be worse than ‘20,000’. after almost three years, I know the answer he’d give.

  • Jay

    I am not sure if this can await another year of delays. The alternative route is westward to British Columbia. This essentially sells the oil to China. How does this in any way benefit the U.S.? Canada has a guaranteed market either way. Keep buying oil from the Middle East, nothing but good will come of that.

  • Fred

    Obama’s decision to delay the XL Pipeline is all about jobs, er, I mean job.


    He’ll happily sacrifice toss of thousands of unemployed Steelworker jobs out the window to buy peace with his Eco Greenie Hollywood Protest voters so he can secure one job.

    In Obama arithmetic his 1 job is far more important than those tens of thousands of ordinary Americans.

    Because Obama is the President for all Americans.

  • John

    Does Dear Leader actually believe the greenies will be fooled by this? He could have just said ‘no’.

    This moron just killed 20,000 jobs, handed his opponents a major issue and will receive no additional votes for it.

    The green diehards will vote for him no matter what; they have no choice. And the green-leaning independents aren’t fooled by this for a second.

  • Blue Eyed Indian

    Pay-off to Warren Buffett big time. His railroad will now eventually haul 780,000 or more barrels of oil per day out of North Dakota and Montana. That gives Buffet’s RR about $10 million per day –6 billion per year. Payback?

  • GVii

    He’s spent the majority of his rather short political career voting present. Why change now? Besides, this was a particularly difficult situation for him to have been in with the Greenies on one side, and the Unions on the other. There was no way in heck he was going to grow a spine now.

  • a nissen

    Time to pull back just a bit from the knee-jerking and join me in taking the best advice I ever got for $100: “when experts disagree, get more information.” (Ed Wenk, Jr.)

    Here is where I started:

    One of the better wikipedia efforts with plenty of citations at the bottom (both sets of experts and those still sorting) to get us farther along the path to public judgment—something that can take years, decades, even centuries to reach.

    In that we don’t appear to have the luxury of time, all the more reason to get a full deck of information ASAP.

  • Walter Sobchak

    One reason that Obama will lose next year is that between now and then he will continue pull off stupid stunts like this one.

  • teapartydoc

    This isn’t going to matter. Read the latest issue of Mother Earth News. A farmer in Vermont who recently immigrated from a rural village in one of the collectivist provinces in India just discovered a way to get all the energy we need from fermented unicorn [dung].

  • RPD

    Big picture, I wonder how much this pipeline matters. Either way the oil gets added to the world market, which is fungible. Other than transportation costs does it matter whether the physical oil comes from Venezuela or Canada?

  • Kris

    In the words of some famous Canadians, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

  • mrsizer

    RDP: Yes, if we don’t build the pipeline, Canada will ship it to China, instead. So, it will still be on the market contributing (downward) to the global price of oil.

    However, there is the issue of infrastructure. If Iran closes the Straight of Hormez (sp?), there will be a global spike in prices. But, wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually GET the oil at that price? It doesn’t do much good to pay for it if someone is sinking the ships on their way here.

  • Omaha Mac

    Obama might have given the GOP a big gift if it were not for the feckless Nebraska Republicans who caved to liberal special interest groups. Folks, remember the names Governor Dave Heineman and Senator Mike Johanns, both of whom decided to take on the RINO label and give Obama tight cover on this issue.

    Welcome to Nebraska! Now please go around.

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