Editorial: Keystone XL deserves answer, one way or another

President Barack Obama should go ahead and veto the Keystone XL pipeline. He wants to do it. His administration wants him to do it. His environmental activists want him to do it. Republicans (and some Democrats) don’t want him to do it. So what is he waiting for?

Well, if you believe Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the president plans to put his veto pen to use in August when Congress is in recess.

“It’s an opportunity for him to do it more under the radar,” Hoeven told Forum News Service reporter Amy Dalrymple on Wednesday. Hoeven, the Senate’s most outspoken supporter of the pipeline, said he has sources who tell him Obama is finally ready to put his signature next to a veto he has long delayed.

That sounds about right. The president has kicked the can down the road on the Keystone XL issue since 2011, and there’s no way he leaves office without making a final decision on it. So why not now?

Perhaps the most telling notion that Hoeven’s sources are correct is that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a firm non-answer when asked whether or not she would sign a bill allowing the Keystone XL pipeline during a town hall discussion with voters Tuesday in Nashua, N.H.

“This is President Obama’s decision,” she said. “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”

Clinton refused to take a stand on the issue, perhaps because she knows it’s going to be a non-issue if she were to become the Democrat’s presidential nominee and she’s smart enough to know not to comment offhand about an energy-related issue that her opponents and even those in her own party — could be held against her later.

After all, the Keystone XL has always been nothing more than an environmental issue for the Obama administration. Almost all environmental groups and lobbyists vehemently oppose it because they believe it’ll contribute to climate change. Whether or not that’s true, no one will likely ever know. (And really, what doesn’t contribute to so-called climate change these days?)

Of the 1 million barrels expected to be shipped daily through the Keystone XL, only 100,000 of that will be from North Dakota. Considering that only takes about 1 1/3 trains off North Dakota tracks each a day, then does it really even matter?

Why are we still squabbling over this pipeline?

The Press Editorial Board has supported building the Keystone XL for more than two years, if for no more of a reason than to bring southwest North Dakota and southeast Montana a brief period of economic influx from its installation and to put to use the thousands of unused pipes that have been sitting in a railyard east of Scranton for nearly three years.

But the president is going to do whatever he feels is right — regardless of whether or not it’s the popular opinion — and life will move on one way or another. Other pipelines will be built and oil will still be shipped out of North Dakota.

We just ask that Obama stop dragging his feet and make the decision already. We’ve waited long enough to find out his answer.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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