The U.S. state department report, released January 31st supporting the merits of the Keystone XL Pipeline, once again brought renewed optimism that President Barack Obama will approve the project. This optimism was (as usual) quickly squashed as the White House publicly stated that Prime Minister Harper and Keystone proponents shouldnâ€™t expect an answer in the near future.
Itâ€™s time to stop being surprised by these reversals of sentiment.
TransCanada submitted an application nearly five years ago to Washington for approval to have the pipeline built, and President Obama has done everything he can to stop the project short of saying no. And, I donâ€™t expect him to give his thumbs down anytime soon.
President Obama has dropped several suggestions that he disapproves of the project. In a pre- Super Bowl interview with Fox News Anchor Bill Oâ€™Reilly, he disputed TransCanadaâ€™s job creation numbers by stating, â€œItâ€™s a couple thousand to build the pipeline.â€ Not a very enthusiastic response from a president whose countryâ€™s biggest problem is unemployment. Later in the interview, when asked flat-out if he would approve it, he replied, â€œWeâ€™ll take a look at it.â€
Quite frankly, I canâ€™t recall the President saying anything positive about the pipeline. Itâ€™s been fiveÂ years since TransCanadaâ€™s application, and his comments have all either disputed TransCanadaâ€™s findings or warned of possible negative climate effects. Furthermore, his delay survived a mid-term and general U.S. election, emboldening him to continue the status quo.
The American public generally approves of the Keystone pipeline. According to a poll taken on January 6th by Rasmussen Reports, 57% of likely U.S. voters at least somewhat favor building the pipeline and only 28% oppose. Thus, the President gains no advantage by outright denying the application for Keystone XL. However, by indefinitely delaying the project, he achieves his goal of preventing construction with minimal political fallout.
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