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Last chance for the Keystone Pipeline

Blocking the Keystone XL pipeline has become an obsession of the environmental left, even though the economic consequences are severe in terms of lost jobs and access to energy resources.  Now, after years of study, the State Department has opened an official comment docket on some final routing changes in Nebraska, but what should be a simple and quick approval could instead derail the project for good.  Green groups are pouring in thousands of comments urging the State Department to start the entire review process from the very beginning.  It would let Obama quietly study the pipeline to death.

At stake are about 20,000 immediate jobs, a secure supply of North American oil, billions in private investment, and the global efficiency benefits of connecting a major crude source to the world’s most efficient refining center. The original permit application for the project was submitted in 2008.  The State Department exhaustively reviewed every aspect of the proposal – and repeatedly promised that final approval would be granted before the end of 2011.

Even the president’s own jobs council – which he hasn’t bothered to meet with in over six months -- touted the economic benefits of pipelines in its official report, saying: "Policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary.”

Could another lengthy delay possibly be considered “timely development”?  No, but perhaps Obama is less concerned with jobs and economic development than with pleasing left-wing special interests.

The environmental protest crowd decided to make this into a litmus test political issue.  Their professed concern is that developing energy from increasingly-important unconventional sources, like the Alberta oil sands, will increase global warming.

But even if they’re right, they’re still acting foolishly.  If the Canadians can’t build a pipeline to U.S. refineries, they’ve already announced they’ll build a pipeline to export terminals on the west coast of Canada instead, from which it will go to dirtier and less efficient Asian refineries.  A lose-lose situation.

The State Department’s exhaustive review process ended last summer, and they recommended approval.  Normally, a presidential permit approval is automatic after successful State Department review.  But not for Obama; he wanted to wait until after the election, because he didn’t want to choose between the environmental extremists and the union workers who want the jobs building the pipeline.

Congress forced his hand in a bipartisan bill passed around Christmas.  It required Obama to decide to either approve or reject the pipeline within 60 days.  He rejected it.

But the pipeline company didn’t give up.  They resubmitted the application with some tweaks to the pipeline route through Nebraska.

Now the State Department is conducting yet another review.  It should be a simple and quick review of just the changes to this already exhaustively reviewed and approved project, followed by a speedy presidential approval.  But Obama, of course, would rather keep stalling.  So green groups are flooding the docket with comments demanding a brand new review of the entire pipeline.

There are only days left in the new public comment period, which ends this month.  If the comments run overwhelmingly in favor of more delay, it will give Obama an excuse to stall the pipeline to death and pretend that’s what Americans want.

We must push back by filling the official State Department docket with comments demanding they stop stalling and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now.

I have a form set up at www.KeyStoneXLNow.com that will send your comments directly to the State Department on this crucial issue. Please don’t miss this opportunity to urge them to do the right thing.

Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.