Our Editorial: OK Keystone delay

The Detroit News

TransCanada has formally requested the Obama administration postpone making a final decision on their application for the embattled Keystone XL Pipeline, and now the U.S. State Department has rejected that request. That’s some chutzpah.

After dawdling for his entire presidency on the pipeline, rejecting legislation from both the U.S. House and Senate approving construction of the project, and ignoring several other attempts by Congress to approve the project — it’s unacceptable that the administration would now refuse to comply with a request for a delay from the other side.

Keystone would create construction jobs — that’s why labor unions support it — and would help secure America’s energy future. But it does not fit into the Obama climate-change agenda, and is opposed by huge Democratic donors such as California’s Tom Steyer, who spent heavily in the last election on anti-pipeline U.S. Senate candidates, including Michigan’s Sen. Gary Peters.

Rather than TransCanada put its request on hold until a new administration takes over in Washington, Obama wants to kill it to cement his global warming legacy ahead of the upcoming Paris summit.

The pipeline’s fate has been a political football between environmentalists and those who support domestic energy production.

The Canadian company requested a delay while a Nebraska route review is ongoing, which could take seven months to a year. It’s likely to extend the decision beyond Obama’s presidency.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he suspects the request is for political reasons, insinuating that somehow cheapens it, ignoring that almost everything about this project has been rooted in politics.

The project has already cost $2.5 billion, and has been reviewed by numerous government offices, including a complete report by the State Department, which found the pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution.

Meantime, the total cost for building the pipeline increases with each delay. It could ultimately cost $10 billion with further delays and increased permitting costs.

A majority of Americans say they support construction of the pipeline, according to polling earlier this year.

Currently, all Democrat presidential candidates say they oppose Keystone construction. All Republican candidates say they support it.

Ideally, Obama would act in America’s interest and approve the pipeline outright. But the best hope for the pipeline is for a new president to give it a fresh look.