- - Monday, April 21, 2014


During the 2008 presidential campaign, Joe Biden scorned John McCain’s economic plan. It “does nothing to tackle the No. 1 job facing the middle class,” said Mr. Biden in one of his many unintended laugh lines, “and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word — jobs, J-O-B-S, jobs.”

Now that Barack Obama is president, he hasn’t learned to spell any better, or to do anything to tackle J-O-B-S. His decision Friday to put off approval of the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry petroleum from Canada’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast refineries, is his idea of helping. Building the 2,100-mile pipeline would create thousands of construction jobs that pay enough to draw the interest and support of the labor unions.

Mr. Obama usually does whatever the unions want, but this time he hid behind the skirt of Judge Stephanie Stacy of Lancaster County, Neb., who voided Nebraska legislation to expedite the pipeline, which would run through the state. Her ruling is on hold while on appeal to the state Supreme Court. Judge Stacy sided with radical environmentalists.

Apparently, theirs is the only voice that can be heard over the labor unions in this White House. Tom Steyer, the hedge-fund billionaire environmental extremist, pledged to donate up to $50 million of his own money and to raise $50 million more for Democrats opposed to Keystone. Thanks to his cash, the project remains hostage to the irrational fear and hatred of fossil fuels of the watermelon left (green on the outside, Red on the inside).

The State Department, empowered to make the call since the pipeline would cross international boundaries, had already approved Keystone. The clock was set to run out May 7 on the 90-day period for interagency comments on the plan. But Mr. Obama’s decision gives eight different federal agencies yet more time to submit their views on whether the pipeline is in the national interest. This pushes the decision off until after the November elections. The timing is no coincidence.

Mr. Obama can’t cancel Keystone outright — at least, not yet. He’s worried about the impact that cancellation would have on red-state Senate Democrats running for re-election in the fall, who were among 11 Democratic senators who earlier this month wrote to the White House urging the administration to give the pipeline the final go-ahead. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the most endangered Democrats, called Friday’s decision “irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.” Another, Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, says he’s “frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging.”

A National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman says the decision “reinforces how ineffective, powerless and without influence” Ms. Landrieu, Mr. Begich, Mark R. Warner of Virginia and Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina are. That’s the thanks they get for supporting Mr. Obama’s legislative agenda more 95 percent of the time in 2013. They can now run from Mr. Obama on Keystone, but their voting records won’t let them hide.

If Messrs. Biden and Obama would like to make helping the middle class job No. 1, the fix is a simple eight-letter word: Keystone.

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