The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Last Obstacle

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 10, 2015

Throughout the Keystone XL pipeline’s long wait for federal approval, President Obama has used one excuse after another to deflect responsibility for blocking a project that polls in the 70s with the American people, one that would support thousands of U.S. jobs and help move the country closer to North American energy security. All along the way the president could have exercised his authority to say yes to all of the above but deferred instead.

The president said environmental questions needed answers, and they were provided by his own State Department, which cleared Keystone XL in five separate environmental reviews.

The president said the cross-border approval process – required because Keystone XL would cross the U.S.-Canadian border – needed to run its course. It did and then some, stretching now to more than six years when historically, cross-border approvals are granted in 18 to 24 months.

The president said Nebraska needed to work out the pipeline’s route through that state, which it did. Then the president said the state’s Supreme Court would have to settle a legal challenge over the re-routing process.

On Friday, Nebraska’s high court rejected that challenge, confirming the assessment of the state Department of Environmental Quality and the governor’s recommendation to the State Department – leaving the project with only one remaining obstacle: President Obama.

Congress is acting in the wake of the leadership vacuum created by the president’s delaying. A bipartisan majority in the House passed pro-pipeline legislation Friday, and the Senate is poised to consider a similar bill in the coming days. Although the president may yet veto the bipartisan congressional effort, it’s crystal clear that denying good U.S. jobs, economic growth and increased energy security would be all on him. Not on a process, not on a state court. On him. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“President Obama has no more excuses left to delay or deny the Keystone XL pipeline. … The project has strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and a majority of Americans want to see it approved. With the stroke of a pen, the president can create thousands of jobs by approving KXL. The pipeline is a vital part of our North American energy renaissance and it has been delayed for far too long.”

More Gerard:

“President Obama needs to show leadership and say yes to middle-class jobs and no to radical fringes who want to deprive all Americans of the stable and reliable fuels they need to power their daily lives. And if the president continues to move the goal post, then Congress must act. The political gamesmanship over KXL needs to stop. It’s time to approve the pipeline.”

In recent weeks the president has publicly dismissed Keystone XL – though he has repeatedly called for infrastructure investment on a scale the pipeline represents. He has bashed the project’s job-creating ability despite the State Department analysis that Keystone XL would support more than 42,000 jobs during its construction, while boosting a number of economic sectors. He has waved off the oil Keystone XL would bring to U.S. refineries as “Canadian oil” and as oil for export that would only benefit Canada – misrepresentations that are hardly the way to talk about an ally and our No. 1 source of imported oil. Even with the Nebraska court ruling, the White House keeps talking about the need for more review, more process – which after more than six years of review and process is more comical than credible.

Ultimately, the president only has one call to make on the Keystone XL pipeline, and that’s whether the project is in the national interest. This is clear.

The president should listen to objective analysis on Keystone XL’s jobs and economic benefits, as well as the way it would increase America’s energy security. The president should hear the American people, who support Keystone XL by better than a 3-to-1 margin. The president should listen to the peoples’ representatives in Congress, where Democrats and Republicans back legislation advancing the pipeline.

Most of all, the president should stop standing in the way of the Keystone XL pipeline. 


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.