President Obama says he will fast-track construction of the southern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an ambitious energy project that is intended to transport oil from Canada in a snaking tube all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Obama put the pipeline on indefinite hold earlier this year, claiming that Republicans in Congress were recklessly pushing the project forward without heeding environmental concerns. His latest concession is a move to defend his energy policies, which are under the klieg lights now that gas prices are soaring. But Republicans slammed Obama's support for the pipeline as a "publicity stunt." Is this about-face enough to convince voters that Obama's policies are energy-friendly?
Obama's position on Keystone is a joke: Obama's declaration is "the emptiest of gestures," says Investor's Business Daily in an editorial. He's taking credit for expediting the southern half of the pipeline, but it's the northern half from Canada that's important. That's the part that requires "State Department approval and a presidential blessing," which Obama withdrew in January. The Alberta oil sands in Canada contain "24 billion barrels of oil," none of which, thanks to Obama, will be reaching the U.S. anytime soon. Instead of "presidential hot air," let's just approve the whole project already.
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The announcement even estranged environmentalists: When Obama rejected the Keystone pipeline in January, environmentalists "cheered," say Beth Fouhy and Dina Cappiello at The Associated Press, but the president's latest move is a source of deep "dismay." Environmentalists contend that the pipeline is an ecological disaster waiting to happen, and that it only encourages increased consumption of fossil fuels that are destroying the planet. While Republicans continually hammer Obama for kowtowing to environmental groups, the truth is conservationists feel "let down by Obama's record on their issues."
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Obama is trying unsuccessfully to play all sides: When it comes to energy, Obama "can't seem to win for losing," says Talia Buford at Politico. That's because he's trying to make a lot of arguments at the same time. He's insisting that "oil and gas are a prime part of an 'all of the above' energy strategy," while pushing clean energy initiatives. He wants to be seen as open to new oil drilling, while convincing voters that "drilling alone won't ease the high gasoline prices that are burdening consumers and pulling down his poll numbers."
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