March 24, 2017

Undoing Obama’s Keystone Ban

Trump reverses yet another part of his predecessor’s failed legacy.

In November 2015, after years of foot-dragging, Barack Obama finally blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline. He had been trying to thread the needle between his union and ecofascist constituencies, eventually bowing to the latter just ahead of the Paris climate summit. Fortunately, yet another Obama legacy item is being undone by Donald Trump, as the new president issued the requisite permit for the pipeline Friday morning.

Rejecting the pipeline in 2015, Obama smugly pontificated, “Ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.” What he neglected to mention was that TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline to transport shale oil, wasn’t going to leave the oil in the ground; it was just going to sell it elsewhere. And pipelines are far safer for transporting oil than, say, trains.

“After many years of unfortunate delays and partisan posturing, Keystone XL pipeline finally got the green light it has long deserved,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. “This pipeline, and countless other projects around the nation, will improve America’s energy security, create jobs, and help get the economy back on track.”

That doesn’t mean the ecofascists are going to go quietly into the night. “This pipeline is all risk and no reward, and we will continue to fight it every step of the way,” insisted Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters. Indeed, largely because of legal challenges, the Keystone Pipeline isn’t going to be completely immediately just because of Trump’s permit. But it’s a start, and the American energy boom depends on more deregulating decisions like this one.

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