Have Environmentalists Blundered on Keystone?

I think it is at least 50-50 that Obama will eventually approve the Keystone pipeline, in part for intrinsic reasons—and especially if he can fool Republicans into making a bad bargain over it—but also to demonstrate that he can stand up to parts of his own base. Think of it as his own Green Sob-Sister Souljah moment.  This outcome will expose the environmental hysterics as paper tigers.

My pals Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger take to the pages of The New Republic today to point out how stupid and hypocritical the Keystone opposition has been.  They’re especially annoyed with Van Jones’s comparison of Keystone opposition to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  To this they snort:

Imagine that after the “March on Washington” in 1963, the 300,000 or so participants all got on segregated buses for their return home. The equivalent is precisely what happens every time Keystone opponents climb into gas-powered vehicles after their D.C. protests. Whether the next destination is the hinterlands of Alberta, the gates of the White House, or the next stop on the lecture circuit, even the most hardened protesters depend upon petroleum-fueled transport because oil is the lifeblood of the American economy. And the basic political economy of oil, not the political power of fossil-fuel companies, is what keeps America’s pipelines and oil rigs humming, despite the high economic and environmental price that we pay. . .

The Washington Post editorial board agrees:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE drawn a line in the sand on the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s the wrong line in the wrong sand, far away from any realistic assessment of the merits — as yet another government analysis has confirmed. It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics and resolve this bizarre distraction of an issue.