In Washington, it is customary to release news that is controversial at 5 pm on Fridays. So it was on March a presidential Administration releases news it doesn’t like at 5 p.m. on Fridays. So it was on March 1 as commuters on in the District of Columbia and elsewhere were on their way home when the Department of State released a positive review of the potential environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline that will channel Canadian petroleum derived from its oil sands deposits all the way to Kansas, passing over the Ogallala aquifer in the Dakotas.
President Barack Obama had delayed the construction of the pipeline for more than three years, ostensibly out of concern for the environment. Now the approval comes safely after his reelection.
The pipeline promises to convey an additional 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, and create some 179,000 American jobs, according to the Heritage Foundation. According to Nicolas Loris of Heritage, the permit process for the pipeline was advancing steadily until environmentalists made it an issue in 2011. Obama delayed a decision until now. Loris wrote in 2012 that the State Department, which oversees the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border, has “already conducted a thorough, three-year environmental review with multiple comment periods.”
According to Heritage, the State Department looked at risks to soils, wetlands, water resources, vegetation, fish, wildlife, and endangered species, concluding that Keystone would pose only a "minimal environmental risk," according to Heritage. Keystone XL also met 57 specific pipeline safety standard requirements created by State and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Canada already has other means at hand to sell the oil it has on hand, including other pipelines, barges and railroads. Writing for Forbes magazine, Brigham McCown said that “Delays in approving the upper portion of the pipeline have bewildered many Canadians who see the U.S. as their closest ally and trading partner.”
McCown pointed out that “Even without the pipeline, Canada will continue to extract the oil which would be most likely transported by pipeline and rail to Canada’s coast for shipment to Asian markets.”
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to put his seal of approval on the pipeline. Ultimately, the decision rests with President Obama.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.