The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 22, 2014

Our View: Keystone Pipeline delay political

Why it matters: The State Department's delay of its Keystone Pipeline decision is looking more political than practical

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Americans are likely not surprised that that Keystone XL pipeline has once again been delayed by the federal government.

This time, the State Department has said it wants to await a ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court that could change the route of the proposed pipeline through that state.

This comes on the heels of numerous earlier government approvals. In January the State Department released a voluminous study that concluded construction of the pipeline would not boost the rate of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere. Because the tar sand oil that would be shipped through the pipeline would likely be developed anyway and be shipped via train or truck, the pipeline would not have a net negative affect on the air, the report said.

TransCanada has been seeking approval for the pipeline since 2008. It was a controversial political issue in the 2012 election. Many Democrats, especially in the Senate, are favoring construction of the pipeline, in opposition to the Obama administration’s position. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has already urge Obama to approve it.

Environmental reviews nationally and in Nebraska have been completed to the satisfaction of governments. But the project was delayed after Secretary of State John Kerry also asked several other agencies to review the State Department’s approval.

Political observers are seeing the energy project as another hot button political issue for the upcoming election. They argue the Obama administration is delaying it again to avoid losing seats in the Senate or taking other losses.

Democratic backer and billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer had personally asked Obama to reject the pipeline, according to a report in The New York Times. The report said Steyer was ready to throw $100 million into Democratic campaigns should the project be delayed to Steyer’s liking.

There appear to be some location issues on the pipeline through Nebraska that the Supreme Court is expected to take up this fall, but a ruling will likely come after the election.

Making tough decisions after elections seems to be a pattern of late. It’s unfortunate the Keystone pipeline appears to be a victim of politics at a time when energy issues are so critical to the United States.