The Keystone XL Pipeline

Bill Neinast

The gates are open.  The race is on.

The White House and Congress are running neck and neck.  The finish line is two years away.

The winner will be the one who blocks the most of the other’s initiatives.

Each threw a challenge at the other right out of the gates.  Congress said, “We are going to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline.”  The White House responded, “No you’re not.  I will veto it.”

Then the President dumped another giveaway at taxpayers’ expense at the gate.  The proposal is to fund two years of tuition for every student in community colleges who are carrying a minimum number of semester hours and maintaining a specified grade point average.

Much to the President’s delight, the response was exactly what he wanted.  The Republican dominated Congress responded like a Minnesotan with, “Ya, Sure, Ya Betcha.”  Meaning, in this case, “Yes, OK, but only when pigs fly.”

Ever since the elections in November, the press has been a twitter with speculation about whether the President and Republican Congress will be able to work together.  Will either reach out to the other?

Most of the liberal media is fixated on whether Speaker of the House Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McDonnell will seek accommodation with Obama.  Whether the President will reach out to Congress is rarely asked.

Actual events, however, are propelling Obama to the wrong side of the equation.  His reaching out to Congress is to threaten a veto of the first piece of legislation out of the Congressional doors.  That looks like the arm of compromise he is holding out is way too short to look like a willingness to meet Congress even half way.

This will be evident to even his most ardent supporters in the press and they might hint that maybe all the fault of no compromise is not on the Republican side.

So, ipso facto, a new proposal to tax and spend appears out of nowhere.  Obama knows as surely as he knows his wife’s name that a proposal to create a new entitlement will be dead on arrival in a Republican Congress.  Just to make sure the proposal would not see the light of day, he proposes that the states be required to fund one-fourth of the bill.

Skeptics might believe that the proposal to fund two years of college is a gimmick the President will use to say, “Look, I told you the Congress would not compromise or work with me. My veto of Keystone is nothing compared to this hard-hearted Congress denying assistance to needy students.  Their refusal to compromise with me on this affects a lot more of our citizens than my denial of a permit for a polluting oil pipeline.”

That will be the bone the media was craving. Some journalists will chomp on that one act as all the proof they need that Republicans will not cooperate with the White House.

That will be an odd response.  The public, not just the Congress, is frustrated with Obama delaying the pipeline.  This headline was in the Jan 12, 2015, edition of the Huffington Post: “Keystone XL Pipeline Has Wide Public Support, Poll Finds.”  That coverage was based on an ABC/Washington Post poll released on January 9.

Those three news organizations are part of the liberal pack.  Pouring some cold water on the Obama position, the polls found that 65% of those polled believe the pipeline should be built.  The polls were described in more detail as follows:

“Democrats who self-identify as liberals oppose the project by a 47 percent to 36 percent margin. But 51 percent of all Democrats polled said they think it should be approved. Support is even higher among Republicans, with 82 percent saying that the Keystone XL should be built.”

Obama’s response to this sentiment is to order yet another bureaucratic study to add to the stack accumulated over his six years of opposition.  He offers the weak excuse that the pipeline would be a major polluter.  The pipe might spring a leak and pollute some water supply. Moreover the oil that gets to its destination on the Gulf Coast would be refined into gasoline to be burned and speed global warming.

The facts that the oil is already being transported to the Gulf in rail cars that are much more prone to spills than heavy steel pipes and that Canada will continue to produce the oil for consumption elsewhere are ignored.

So here’s the perspective.

The real reason for Obama’s opposition to Keystone is rarely mentioned.  Texas would benefit more from the pipeline than all the other states combined and that is an anathema to Obama.

The only benefit to Nebraska, for example, would be a short term employment benefit while the line is being built in the state and the income for easements through specific tracts of land.

Texas, however, would receive a tremendous boost to its supply of raw material for a booming petroleum industry.

Some journalists will eventually figure this out and become more critical of the President for not cooperating with Congress and the people on this issue.  To prepare for that eventuality, Obama had to come up with--in his mind-- the bigger issue of funding college education that he knows will be opposed by Republicans in Congress.

That is why both parties are stumbling out of the starting gates. 


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