Goodbye, Keystone

TransCanada’s application for permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline has been kicking around the Obama administration for nearly seven years. Recently, TransCanada sought to withdraw its permit application, presumably on the theory that the Obama administration would never grant it, and it would be easier to start fresh with a new administration than to try to overturn a negative decision by the current one. Today President Obama responded by announcing that he is denying TransCanada’s application.

The State Department is the lead agency for considering the application. The statement that Secretary of State John Kerry issued today is here. Kerry’s statement is both pompous and dishonest. Kerry says that his decision was driven primarily by concerns about global warming (the oceans are rising, continuing a 12,000-year trend). However, he can’t claim that carbon emissions will be affected one way or the other by the pipeline. This is because if the oil isn’t transported to the U.S. via pipeline, it will be exported to China instead. So Kerry relies on a more ephemeral point: the supposed impact of the pipeline on U.S. “leadership.”

The critical factor in my determination was this: moving forward with this project would significantly undermine our ability to continue leading the world in combatting climate change.

Kerry also pooh-poohed the idea that Keystone would be good for America’s economy:

* The proposed project would not lead to lower gas prices for American consumers.

* The proposed project’s long-term contribution to our economy would be marginal.
Our analysis makes it clear that the Keystone XL pipeline would not be the economic driver it is heralded to be.

So, what did State’s analysis ostensibly show? Kerry discreetly fails to explain what he means by “marginal,” but the New York Times fills in the gap:

A State Department analysis concluded that building the pipeline would have created jobs, but the total number represented less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation’s total employment.

How many construction projects account for more than one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation’s total employment? None, I would guess. Moreover, the estimated cost of the Keystone project is around $8 billion, much of which would have gone to union labor. There was a time when the Democratic Party considered this to be real money.

But those days are gone. Blue-collar workers are no longer welcome in the Democrats’ coalition. As the Times says:

Environmental activists cheered the decision as a vindication of their influence.

They are right about that. In a decision that was almost entirely political and symbolic, theirs is the symbolic victory. It remains for a Republican administration to allow the pipeline to be built, as most Americans want.

STEVE adds: Well, at last we’ve found a trans-something that liberals are against.