Keystone XL

Obama Administration Will Continue Dragging Its Feet Through the Tar Sands, Delaying Keystone Pipeline Decision

Pushed back over Nebraska court ruling, public response volume


Today the Obama administration announced another delay in deciding whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada through the United States until later in the year, possibly past the midterm elections.

The Hill notes a number of reasons for the delay:

Officials said they are stopping the clock on an assessment of the controversial project due to litigation in Nebraska over the pipeline's proposed route.

The department said it notified eight federal agencies engaged in the review that it would "provide more time for the submission of their views" on Keystone XL.

"Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state," the State Department said in a press release on Friday.

"In addition, during this time we will review and appropriately consider the unprecedented number of new public comments, approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment period that closed on March 7, 2014," the agency said.

The administration's review was supposed to be completed by May.

The Nebraska lawsuit revolves around who in the state has the authority to authorize eminent domain to grab land to create the pipeline. The legislature passed a law giving the power to the state's governor. The judge ruled the state could not do that. From The Washington Post in February:

The Nebraska law struck down Wednesday allowed TransCanada to seek approval of the project from the state's elected five-member Public Service Commission or from [Gov. Dave] Heineman. After approving the route, Heineman gave the pipeline company power of eminent domain to acquire land. …

But [Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie] Stacy ruled that the state legislature could not pass such a law. "It is clear," she wrote, "the Legislature cannot .?.?. divest the PSC of jurisdiction over a class of common carriers and vest such power in another governmental agency, body of government, or branch of government, except the Legislature."

Most Americans want the Pipeline

Our most Reason-Rupe poll shows that a majority of Americans, 61 percent, support building the pipeline, despite the activism of environmentalists to halt it. A majority, 65 percent, think it will not impact President Barack Obama's favorability if he approves it. Reason's Emily Ekins notes:

Despite fervent opposition from the liberal wing of the president's party, 50 percent of Democrats favor approving the oil route while 43 percent oppose. However, Reason-Rupe's measure of ideological groups find that ideological liberals are opposed to the pipeline with 37 percent in favor and 57 percent opposed.

Republicans are most favorable of Keystone, by a margin of 82 to 13 percent. A majority (57 percent) of independents are also in favor, while 35 percent are opposed.