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Another excuse for President Obama to delay deciding on the Keystone XL pipeline bites the dust. Here is what you need to know about a Nebraska court ruling and the fate of the pipeline.
[The ruling reverses] a lower court that had blocked the proposal and clearing the way for a U.S. State Department ruling on the plan.
The court said it was divided and could not reach a substantive decision, leaving in place legislation that favored TransCanada Corp and its claim to build a crude oil pipeline across the state.
The Nebraska legal issue was the latest self-created roadblock the administration has used in its six-plus years of delay in approving the pipeline. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters recently:
There continues to be an outstanding question about the route of the pipeline through one part of Nebraska…. Once that is resolved, that should speed the completion of the evaluation of that project.
The Nebraska Supreme Court has resolved it.
“The Nebraska Supreme Court’s decision removes the last excuse that the Obama administration has been using to justify the unconscionable delays in the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said in a statement.
The ball goes back to the State Department to determine if the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest. In 2010 as one of the five studies were underway, then Secretary Hillary Clinton said the State Department was “inclined” to approve the pipeline. Based on its latest analysis the pipeline will create 42,000 jobs, generate $3.4 billion in economic activity, and produce $55.6 million in local property taxes annually once it’s operating. All of this with little environmental impact.
To any ordinary person, this project is in the national interest, and Secretary John Kerry should approve it.
If the State Department does approve the project, but another agency objects—like EPA, which has been critical—then President Obama makes the final decision.
Harbert wants him to say, “Yes”:
It is time for President Obama to approve the pipeline—no more excuses, no more delays. A strong, bipartisan majority of Americans expect nothing less. Delaying the decision further will only expose this administration to valid accusations of political posturing.
Even as legal questions in Nebraska have been settled, work continues in Congress.
Today, the House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill that would approve construction of the pipeline. Next week, the Senate is expected to begin debate on a similar bill.
Unfortunately the White House reaffirmed its veto threat despite the settlement of the Nebraska question:
Regardless of the Nebraska ruling today, the House bill still conflicts with longstanding executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the president and prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on U.S. national interests, and if presented to the President, he will veto the bill.
The administration’s obstruction runs counter to public opinion even in Nebraska, where opponents have focused much of their attention.
A Nebraska poll released in December showed that a 55% of Nebraskans support the pipeline.
Nationally, even stronger majorities support the pipeline. A December 2014 Fox News poll found nearly 70% support it, and a Pew Research Center poll found majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents back the project.
Either through federal permitting or legislation, the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved. It’s a job-creator, a benefit to state and national economies, has broad support, and will reassure people that it’s possible to build big things in America.