Obama’s decision on Keystone: pure politics

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other House Republican leaders lash out at President Obama and his decision to reject a bid to expand the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline on Jan. 18, 2012. "This fight is not over," Boehner said.

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Article Highlights

  • Keystone decision is emblematic of hostility administration has shown to all forms of fossil-fuel production and consumption

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  • It's clear that the decision to deny the Keystone XL pipeline was political @kennethpgreen

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  • The president has a history of doubling and tripling down on his more absurd energy policies

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The Obama administration’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline (which would bring oil down from Canada’s province of Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast) is emblematic of the pervasive, systematic hostility the administration has shown to all forms of fossil-fuel production and consumption. 

Whether it’s coal production and use, oil production and use, or natural-gas production and use, the Obama administration has been consistent in its efforts to stymie production and force conservation (a.k.a. rationing) by limiting access to supply or jacking up price through regulations.

Given the extensive network of crude-oil pipelines that already criss-cross the United States, and its history of largely safe operation, it seems clear that the decision to deny the Keystone XL pipeline was political. Over at the Daily Beast, Daniel Stone suggests that the administration acted in order to deny Republicans a victory, and to get the issue out of the way so Obama can focus on his own grand energy vision in the upcoming State of the Union address. I have my doubts about that, given the utter debacles that the administration has made with regard to Solyndra and their entire renewables/electric-car agenda. On the other hand, this President has a history of doubling- and tripling-down on his more absurd energy policies, and isn’t afraid of over-the-top Orwellian speaking.

Whether it represents Obama’s ongoing crusade against fossil fuels; a fit of pique over Congress’s decision to force the President’s hand (he had until February 21 to decide); or the Obama campaign thinks that the inevitable response from Republicans will help to rally his base, the decision is guaranteed to make regular appearances for the rest of the presidential-campaign silly season.

Finally, Obama has certainly strengthened Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper’s hand in pushing for a West Coast terminal to send oil-sand oil off to China. Harper should send him a commemorative hockey puck. 

Kenneth P. Green is a resident scholar at AEI

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