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EDITORIAL: Keystone XL deja vu

Obama has a second chance to keep America running

President Obama has a new lease on the Oval Office, but he faces an old conundrum: what to do about the Keystone XL pipeline. This time, he should do the right thing and give the job-creating project a thumbs-up.

The president was greeted on the first day of his second term with a letter from Nebraska's Republican Gov. Dave Heineman endorsing a modified route for the oil pipeline through his state. Last year, the conduit's proposed pathway raised the ire of anti-affordable-energy activists who claimed the venture threatened sensitive soil and groundwater of the Sand Hills region. A revised blueprint mitigates those concerns, offering Cornhuskers the chance to reap an estimated $418 million in construction business and associated activity. Now the only impediment to this economic boon is Mr. Obama's State Department, which has yet to give the green light required for the cross-border enterprise.

Keystone XL would transport 830,000 barrels of black gold daily from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, southward to refineries on the Gulf Coast, supporting 20,000 jobs and billions of dollars for state economies along a 1,700-mile route. Reducing our dependence on the Middle East while simultaneously reducing our unemployment problem ought to be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, some on the left have declared war on carbon dioxide, the by-product both of a gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine and of the human respiratory process.

For these extremists, oil is the enemy, and Mr. Obama was careful not to offend them during his re-election effort last year. At the same time, he also chose to avoid directly torpedoing a massive job creator in the midst of sky-high joblessness. Now that Mr. Heineman has signaled his approval, a group of 53 senators composed of 44 Republicans and nine Democrats have urged Mr. Obama to follow suit. With significant members of his own party on board, the president is running low on plausible excuses.

The anti-affordable-energy crowd realized the need to head off compromise and is planning a march on Washington's National Mall on Feb. 17 to raise their voices against Keystone XL's approval. The "Forward on Climate" rally seeks to make the case that "climate has come home" in the form of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy because human beings have been burning fossil fuels.

"Climate" is shorthand for "climate change," which used to be called "global warming" until thermometers failed to cooperate with their wild theory. Organizers calculate that if hundreds of gas-guzzling buses disgorge a few thousand protesters on the Mall, Mr. Obama will agree to kill Keystone.

It might work. The State Department has already announced it won't meet its own March deadline for final review of the pipeline project. The longer the decision is delayed, the more time opponents have to mount their public relations counteroffensive.

By signing off on Keystone XL, Mr. Obama would bolster his lagging credibility in claiming to pursue an "all of the above" national energy policy. Nixing it again would confirm what many Americans already suspect: He's in the tank for crony capitalist windmill and solar-panel makers. That tank, however, is nearly empty. The Heritage Foundation counts 33 green energy firms that have failed or faltered despite taxpayer subsidies. Those jobs are as fickle as a sudden breeze, and Mr. Obama's legacy depends on a jobs recovery. That means depending on Keystone XL to power the nation.

The Washington Times

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