The long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline has many supporters in the United States. But in the latest delay and ensuing debate, a spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper put the project in broader perspective:
"This project will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border, will enhance the energy security of North America, has strong public support, and the U.S. State Department has, on multiple occasions, acknowledged it will be environmentally sound."
Mr. Harper's spokesman could have added that President Barack Obama just two months ago assured state governors that he expected to make a decision quite soon.
Politics is almost certainly the reason for the latest delay, which was announced Friday by the State Department.
The delay will gratify environmentalists, at least in the run-up to the mid-term elections.
And it means the president can continue to solicit campaign contributions from major environmental donors like Tom Steyer, a California billionaire who has pledged to spend $100 million this year helping to elect national legislators who support his environmental agenda, which includes opposition to Keystone.
The State Department's fig leaf for the delay is that a Nebraska court has put the pipeline's route in question in a case, brought by a Democratic candidate for Senate named Dave Domina, that won't be decided for months. But President Obama knew about this case when he promised an early decision in February.
Stopping Keystone will have little if any positive environmental impact, because the Canadian oil will simply be shipped to the United States in rail cars, which pose their own, somewhat greater danger of spills, or sold to China. Meanwhile, thousands of jobs will go away.
Before they make political contributions to President Obama and the Democrats this year, environmentalists should consider his reckless support of offshore drilling - a stance popular with Big Oil - while failing to mandate that drilling rigs are redesigned to forestall disastrous oil spills, such as that which created such havoc in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago.
A permit for Keystone was first sought in 2008, but the repeated delays now mean that construction can't go forward until 2015. Unless politics again gets in the way.
And what does one Gulf state senator - a Democrat - have to say about the Keystone delay?
"Irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable," said Senate Energy Committee Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La.
From the aborted Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site in Nevada, to the bankrupt Solyndra project, to the repeatedly delayed Keystone XL pipeline - it's clear that this administration's energy policy is running on fumes.
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