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Washington Post Blasts Obama on Pipeline

President Obama’s decision on Tuesday to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry “dirty” oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries, drew the expected response from familiar corners. The vocal green fringe is ecstatic; the Canadians are disappointed; and the entire Republican Party is quietly celebrating  this ready-made political club for use in the coming election.

Yet even on the Left, it appears that Obama is losing some ground on this issue. The Washington Post editorial board, not generally known for its “red meat” conservative tastes, has joined the growing chorus of critics, accusing Obama of making a boneheaded political ploy that will help neither the economy nor the environment:

We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen—with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground—but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude—just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.

As the WaPo goes, so goes the nation?  President Obama’s  upper middle class liberal progressive political instincts are his biggest weakness in a general election campaign.  Decisions like this will put Indiana out of reach and significantly reduce the President’s chances in Ohio.

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  • Jed

    If the fire gets too hot, Obama could approve the project later, and make up all of the lost ground with his union supporters. This would run the risk of Canada making a commitment to China in the meantime, but I am guessing he will be able to thread this needle.

  • Kris

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “Certain people in the United States would like to see Canada be one giant national park for the northern half of North America.”

  • a nissen

    LOL—You can fool some of the people some of the time… but not all of the people all of the time. And so far that holds even for WaPo readers. Best to let them speak for themselves:

    “This editorial really lowers my opinion of the Washington Post. The editorial board might have mentioned that (1) due to concerns from the Nebraska Governor, all parties have agreed to move forward on a different route than the one that was studied; and (2) that different route requires a full panoply of environmental assessments intended to protect Nebraskan citizens. I am not sure whether the editors are being willfully deceptive or are simply misinformed. Either way, it is unacceptable”

    “The politics here favor Obama. He first announced that he would delay a decision until January 2013. That announcement was political, and had many of us scratching our heads, wondering why it would take more than 12 months to complete the new reviews.
    But rather than hammer Obama for that stance, House Republicans decided to give him the upper hand. They said, you have to approve/deny, but we will make sure that your deadline for doing so is so short that your only option is to “deny.” Uunder these circumstances, Obama’s decision cannot be characterized as “political.” Obama had no choice.
    I have to scratch my head and ask why House Republicans would detract from the outrageousness of Obama’s initially declared deadline by killing the proposal single-handedly. Why not require that a decision be rendered within x days of a fully complete application? Why set an arbitrary deadline? Why give Obama an opportunity to show environmentalists that he stood his ground on the necessary environmental review, while also claiming credibly to the competing constituency (labor) that he had no choice? These Republicans really seem like amateurs.”

    “Looks like that GOP forced deadline on a decision blew up in their faces, that is, if they cared more for the pipeline being approved then a polical talking point.”

    “Obama followed the law (established under GW Bush) which requires an enviornmental review.
    The GOP House putting this decision on the line in legislation about payroll tax cuts… is what was done “in the face” of our national interests”

    “Requiring an environmental review was established by the National Environmental Policy Act signed by President Nixon in 1972. Get informed!”

    “It seems that too many folk believe that all that oil will be sold here in the USA, same with any drilled in Alaska. Wrong. It wil lbe sold to the highest bidder like all the other oil. It’s not like we were going to see $2 gas (despite bachman’s claim) even if we kept all the oil.”

    “The only time that America decides from where it buys oil is when it is extracted from the national reserve. The oil produced in American territory flows into the worlds supply and is sold at the world’s price.”

    In short, Congress lost track of its own lawmaking. The President side-stepped his own general distain for laws not to his liking, called up some back-bone, and called Congress on having lost track. As commenters noted, it’s not the end of the world, YET.

  • Cas

    The politics here do NOT favor Obama. The route through Nebraska was changed a year ago, three years of environmental studies have been done. When gasoline is $5 a gallon, as predicted , this summer, Republicans will beat Obama with this cudgel, as well they should.

  • Randy

    Dr. M,

    Are there any Hamiltonians left in the Democratic party?

  • Cunctator

    Let’s hope that Republicans can actually win the coming election — or else we (the world) will be stuck with that [person] in the White House for another four years.

  • Mark Michael

    Cas, comment #4, has it right. It was purely political. The environmental studies were conducted over a period of 3 years. How many environmentalists know that America has something like 3 million miles of pipelines running hither and yon across the country? Those are of all types, including natural gas, various chemicals, etc. I think something like 300,000 miles are large “transmission” oil pipelines similar to that Keystone XL Pipeline. Those transmission pipelines are 8″ to 24″ in diameter; smaller ones, less than 8″, are “distribution” pipelines for more local distribution of the fluid. The Keystone XL will be a biggy: 36″ in diameter. One website (I forget which, now) had a map with the pipelines in red. Almost the entire country was covered with pipelines. The track record of the more modern ones, like the Keystone XL will be, have very good track records for minimizing leaks. The Keystone XL will have state-of-the-art sensors to detect any leaks and transmit that info to a monitor ASAP.

    Anyway, it calls into question the political savvy of Obama and his campaign team IMO. It’s an unexpected gift to the R’s for their Nov. 2012 campaign.

  • Randy


    I hope you’re right, but I’m not convinced. It takes a long time for the hopium to wear off.

  • Kenny
  • a nissen
  • Franklisle

    Already Republican spin doctors are claiming Obama’s action would eliminate from twenty to a hundred thousand new jobs. However, TransCanada told the State Department the pipeline would create just 4,650 temporary construction jobs for two years, according to the Cornell University Global Labor Institute. Consequently, prior to the election in November, we will have a prolonged public debate over whether a small amount of jobs are a worthy price to pay for further destroying the climate, polluting American land and water, and enriching oil companies.

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