Politics ran through the Keystone pipeline

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Nov 6, 2015
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Politics ran through the Keystone pipeline

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Nov 6, 2015
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From the Marketplace Desk of We All Knew This One Was Coming, the White House said Friday it will reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have brought crude from the Canadian Oil Sands down through the U.S.

The review of the project, proposed by Trans-Canada, had been going on for seven years, plenty of time for the issue to become more political then economic.

Environmentalists said the Keystone pipeline would be a climate disaster. Pipeline supporters said it would create tens of thousands of jobs. But actually?  Both sides exaggerated.

Take the job argument.  Tens of thousands of workers might have been needed to build the pipeline. But once it was finished, you wouldn’t need nearly that many people to run it. 

“I suspect it’s less than 100,” said Michael Levi, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.   

Levi said environmentalists’ claims were also exaggerated, and that they used the pipeline as an easy-to-understand symbol.

“It was concrete, it was easy to talk about,” he said. “It wasn’t something confusing like section 111-D regulations under the EPA’S authority.”

Even President Obama complained Friday in his announcement of the rejection about how political the pipeline had gotten.

“It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter,” he said.

The president’s critics shot back that he’d done much of the politicizing. But – and don’t be shocked — the politics aren’t about to go away. 

Sarah Ladislaw, the energy program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wondered if this same thing will happen to other big projects.

“It’s probably going to live on as this litmus test – this political football that people like to throw back and forth,” she said.

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