Secretary of State John Kerry has displayed great urgency in his likely fruitless quest for a peace treaty between our key ally Israel and the Palestinians, a task he insists must be accomplished by the end of April, although Israel, for one, seems in no hurry to come to terms.
But when it comes to the interests of another close ally, Canada, in getting a long-overdue decision from the secretary of state on whether the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States can be constructed, Mr. Kerry has indicated that he is in no hurry.
And President Barack Obama has been keeping Canada waiting for a pipeline answer since long before Mr. Kerry became Secretary of State.
That trend continued in Tuesday night's State of the Union address. Though the president hailed the fact that "America is closer to energy independence than we've been in decades," he missed his chance to further advance that goal by announcing his approval of the pipeline.
However, the time for a decision on Keystone XL is ripe - and the administration should finally give it a green light.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird visited Washington last week to push for a decision on the pipeline, which he said his nation urgently needs so it can get on with its energy planning.
He told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "We can't continue in this state of limbo."
The State Department has been reviewing an application to build the pipeline since 2010. But The Associated Press reports that Mr. Kerry told Mr. Baird that the U.S. will not be pushed into a decision, although a new environmental impact study is due at the end of this month.
By one count, that will be the sixth such review in the last four years.
Stalling has been the preferred approach of the Obama administration to the Keystone XL project. It is faced with conflicting pressures from the environmental lobby, organized labor, businesses who want to import oil from tar sands deposits in western Canada, and legislators from states that would gain jobs from the project.
In addition, there is President Obama's often stated commitment to countering climate change by reducing carbon emissions. He called for more "urgency" on that front in Tuesday night's speech.
Extracting and refining tar sands oil does release significant amounts of carbon dioxide, and is considered "dirty" by climate change activists.
But refusing to build the XL Pipeline will do nothing to prevent the extraction and refining of Canadian tar sands oil. China stands as a ready customer in case the U.S. declines to take this oil.
Canada prefers to sell the oil here, but it will shift investments to meet China's demand if we do not take the oil.
Questions about the safety of the pipeline and its routing through environmentally sensitive areas of the Dakotas and Nebraska have been answered to the satisfaction of the most recent environmental assessments.
The Keystone XL pipeline would reduce the nation's dependence on oil from politically unreliable suppliers like Venezuela and nations in the Middle East.
A failure to approve the pipeline after all of the study that has taken place would be a triumph of political pandering. The national interest will be better served by approval.