EDITORIAL: Obama’s Keystone conundrum

Approving job-creating energy project is vital to economic recovery

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President Obama claimed throughout the campaign that he would pursue an “all of the above” energy policy. Now that he’s secured a second term, Americans expect him to make good on his promise and allow affordable energy projects to proceed. A powerful signal of his intention to keep his word would be to grant final approval to the Keystone XL pipeline.

On Friday, 18 senators, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, sent a letter to Mr. Obama requesting a meeting in which they intend to urge him to approve the proposed pipeline, which would carry millions of barrels of oil southward from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, creating upward of 20,000 jobs in the process.

“The election is over, people want us to work together to create jobs, and one sure way we can create jobs right now is by moving forward with construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline,” said Montana’s Democratic Sen. Max Baucus in an accompanying statement.

In January, the president bowed to pressure from radical leftists and deferred a decision on the 1,700-mile conduit until after Election Day. The anti-oil partisans see Mr. Obama’s victory as a sign that their decades-long war to limit the use of fossil fuels is nearly won and view Keystone’s demise as an apt symbol of success. Affordable energy’s foes wasted little time pressing their advantage as thousands massed in front of the White House on Sunday, less than two weeks after the renewal of Mr. Obama’s mandate on Election Day. Their message was clear: No new pipelines.

Al Gore, the oracle of global warming, has urged the White House to strike a further blow against the Industrial Revolution by using negotiations with Congress over debt and tax rates to impose a tax on carbon dioxide, a gas essential to life on this planet. “It will be difficult for sure, but we can back away from the fiscal cliff and the climate cliff at the same time. One way is with a carbon tax,” Mr. Gore told the Guardian newspaper last week. A levy on carbon dioxide would drive up the cost of fossil fuels, making inefficient energy sources such as solar panels, windmills and algae more affordable by comparison. Consumer prices necessarily would rise, speeding the nation’s economy toward the cliff.

The former veep pressed his case with an online broadcast Wednesday, arguing, “Dirty energy has produced a world of dirty weather.” The show used video from Hurricane Sandy to push the connection between the use of fossil fuels and extreme climate change.

Earth’s climate, however, has undergone temperature oscillations for eons without help from human beings. Combustion of fossil fuels may have raised atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentration, but there is no clear-cut evidence that this phenomenon triggers warmer temperatures or extreme weather. Storms cause greater damage today not because they’re more powerful but because the modern world has put more valuable structures in their path.

Mr. Obama’s legacy is going to be judged based what he does to resolve unemployment and rescue the economy, so approval of Keystone XL is in his interest. The danger of a climate cliff may be imaginary, but the fiscal cliff is not.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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