A top labor union blasted the Obama administration on Friday over what it described as a nakedly political decision to once again delay a decision on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The State Department announced on Friday that it would push back its decision on the pipeline until after the midterm elections in November.
The delay was widely seen as an effort to appease high-dollar environmentalist donors, who have made Keystone their cause célèbre and threatened to battle even Democrats who support the project.
The administration denies that the decision was political, insisting that uncertainty created by litigation over the pipeline route in Nebraska required further study by regulators overseeing the project.
O’Sullivan rejected the explanation.
“The administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest based on months-old litigation in Nebraska regarding a state level challenge to a state process—and which has nothing to with the national interest,” he said in a Friday statement.
O’Sullivan’s union represents many workers who would be employed in the construction phases of the project.
“It’s not the oil that’s dirty, it’s the politics,” he wrote.
“Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. This certainly is no example of profiles in courage. It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”
O’Sullivan’s statement indicates a growing divide between labor unions and the Democratic Party’s environmentalist supporters (and donors) that could spell trouble for the party in the midterms, even with a steady flow of Tom Steyer cash.
Republicans have seized on the most recent Keystone delay to claim that Senate Democrats who support the project—who number at least 11—are ineffective legislators, even when it comes to very important issues in their states.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) has been one of her party’s most outspoken proponents of the pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to refineries in her home state. She called Obama’s delay last week “irresponsible, unnecessary, and unacceptable.”
Speaking out against the decision could play well in Louisiana, but Republicans say the decision speaks to her effectiveness in Washington, which she has touted as an asset for the state and its oil-intensive economy.
“Landrieu has been telling anyone who will listen how influential she is after being named Chairman of the Energy Committee, but it turns out that Landrieu isn’t influential at all,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring in a Monday statement.