Editor's Log: The Waiting Game

October 2013, Vol. 68 No. 10

Getting tired of constant Keystone XL Pipeline updates? Getting weary of the incessant anti-Keystone rhetoric being spread by a seemingly never-ending group of environmental and anti-fossil fuel zealots?

Are you fatigued by escalating negativity in media reports (certain outlets) on the Keystone pipeline, nurtured by the anti-crowd? Are you disillusioned by the Texas Two-Step coming from President Obama regarding a final decision on the pipeline?

Are you drained by the unremitting delay tactics by the State Department and infighting among different segments of the government who all have a piece of the action? Just how many environmental impact statements does it take to build a pipeline?

Are you even becoming jaded by the continued TransCanada statements of assurance that Keystone will be approved? Are they really that confident after three years of waiting?

I’ve about lost patience. But then, that’s the political game we’re playing. A game of stagnation, delay tactics and persistent attacks by radical opposition groups designed to erode public and subsequently Congressional support.

What is to be gained by these continued delays from the State Department and White House? For one thing, time. The extra time provided opportunity for environmental groups to become much better organized and develop even more ancillary organizations to keep up the pressure against the pipeline. Now, even their “spontaneous actions” are well-scripted and coordinated. They are becoming even more honest in the public arena about their true, end-game intentions: shut down the Canadian Tar Sands.

The delays also got the President past his re-election campaign without serious political impact. By continuing to invent reasons for delay, he allows his impressive array of environmental supporters to feel confident that he is in their corner. The extra time has allowed the President to generally ride out various Congressional and business ploys to force a pipeline decision.

President Obama may still need the pipeline to satisfy job creation or sate business interests. But as the months of delay continue to pile up, oil remains plentiful, the economy shakily improves and many of the reasons for building the pipeline in the first place seem but a distant memory in the court of public opinion.

When will there be a final decision on the Keystone Pipeline? Not in 2013 – delays have already been built-in to get past the November elections. Possibly in 2014, but there still remain various options for further postponing a decision.