President Barack Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline bill Tuesday didn’t come as a surprise. But his latest rationalization for continuing to oppose the project was, to put it mildly, perplexing.
The president, in his written veto message, accused Congress of trying “to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.”
The president added that the bill “cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.”
But since when does the approval of a project that has been thoroughly scrutinized for at least five years cut short any reasonable concerns?
And the president and anybody else who has been paying attention knows that continued delay in opening that pipeline from Canada won’t reduce the amount of crude that will ultimately be sold, refined and burned. It will merely force Canada to turn to other eager customers, including China.
As for Congress’ passage of the bill, it was acting within its legislative authority to finally advance a project long blocked by a president pandering to environmentalists. And even some environmentalists have conceded that the supposed risks of the pipeline have been vastly exaggerated and debunked.
Thus, up to 40,000 new U.S. Keystone-related construction and oil-industry jobs are still on hold. The pipeline could also assure a steady flow of heavy Canadian crude to American refineries dependent on diminishing supplies from far less reliable Venezuela.
Yet President Obama has repeatedly altered his dubious cases against the pipeline. Those arguments against it have fallen under the weight of accumulating evidence. And oil is already largely — and safely — transported by pipeline across the U.S.
But though the Keystone Pipeline bill was passed by significant margins (62-38 in the Senate, 270-152 in the House), the numbers needed to override the veto are, respectively, 67 and 290.
So now more oil will continue to be moved around the U.S. by train — hardly a triumph for environmental safety.
As one senator put it Tuesday after the veto was announced:
“When our own State Department review shows that this oil is coming out of the ground, it’s only a question of how, then the decision to be made is this —what is the safest way to move it to market? Pipelines are better than barges or trains. That’s common sense, and I will vote to override this veto.”
A Republican didn’t issue that accurate statement. A Democrat — Missouri’s Claire McCaskill — did. She was one of nine senators from her party to vote for the pipeline bill.
At least Canada Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford accentuated the positive by saying Tuesday: “It is not a question of if this project will be approved; it is a matter of when.”
And that “when” could come sooner if more Democratic lawmakers help override the president’s unjustified veto of the Keystone pipeline bill.