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Obama's Keystone Rejection 'Irresponsible'

Obama's Keystone Rejection 'Irresponsible'

By Monday, 09 November 2015 09:05 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Reaction to President Barack Obama's Keystone pipeline rejection was swift and jagged.

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, whose state would benefit from extension of Keystone XL, seemed to speak for many in his party when he told reporters: “Opposing Keystone is economically, diplomatically and environmentally irresponsible. The president’s final decision confirms that he’s more interested in catering to radical environmental extremists than with creating jobs and encouraging energy independence.”

Many were left wondering if the issue could be raised with the next president.

Obama announced his rejection on Friday.

He complained of what he called “the overinflated role in our political discourse,” and cited the environmental cause of climate change as the principal reason for permitting the pipeline to cross from Canada into the U.S. In his words, “if we’re going to prevent large parts of the earth from becoming inhospitable or uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.”

Almost to a person, Republicans in Congress denounced his decision. Cole summed it up when told reporters: “Studies have shown that pipeline transport is cheaper, more efficient and more environmentally sound than any other means of moving oil.”

The war of words over Keystone came less than two months after a nationwide survey conducted by the Neilsen Company for the American Petroleum Institute found American voters favoring Keystone XL by a margin of 68 percent to 21 percent.

The same survey found Keystone XL is supported across the political spectrum (Republicans 91 percent, independents 62 percent, Democrats 52 percent).

As to whether those figure will hold up on the campaign trail next year and have an impact, however, some Republicans were skeptical. “Keystone will only be an issue if gas prices rise precipitously,” veteran North Carolina GOP consultant Marc Rotterman told me.

Former Rep. John Linder, R.-Ga., a past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that the president’s decision “will serve to dampen union ardor in 2016, but otherwise, the issue will fade. We will have higher costs and more spills next year, but by then we will be used to it.”

Another past NRCC head, former Rep. Tom Davis, R.-Va., was slightly more optimistic about the political punch packed by Keystone. “It’s a good issue for which to resonate support in oil patch areas and coal country,” Davis told me, “Polling is good on this. However, academia and environmentalists also get fired up on the other way.”

Michael Barone, one of the co-authors of the “Almanac of American Politics,” predicted the furor over Keystone would be a “minor issue in ’16 in that it was an example of how Democrats want to increase energy costs and decrease energy supply.”

David Frum, columnist for the Atlantic and a past White House speechwriter to George W. Bush, told me, “The alternative to Keystone is that Canadian oil moves unsafely by rail, not safely by pipeline. Railway oil has already caused one horribly lethal accident on Canadian soil, at Lac Magentic in Quebec in 2013.

“The U.S. isn’t immune. And when oil markets tighten again, as they always do, Americans will discover the true cost of the president’s decision to cut access to America’s most reliable and secure source of oil.”

Noting that Canadian’s just-inaugurated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced disappointment in the president’s decision, Frum said that “at this point, there aren’t many world leaders with whom President Obama has a cordial relationship. I expect the Justin Trudeau people are very eagerly looking forward to a Hillary Clinton presidency.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.   

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Reaction to President Barack Obama's Keystone pipeline rejection was swift and jagged.
keystone, xl, pipeline, obama
Monday, 09 November 2015 09:05 AM
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