Friday, November 18, 2011

Political career first, Country second...or maybe third

Charles Krauthammer, writing for National Review Online, details the transparent political motivations behind the Obama administration's decision to delay the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The construction of the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, plus lessened U.S. reliance on Middle East oil, but apparently those reasons are insufficient to trump the needs of the administration:
President Obama decreed that any decision must wait 12 to 18 months — postponed, by amazing coincidence, until after next year’s election.
Why? Because the pipeline angered Obama’s environmental constituency. But their complaints are risible. Global warming from the extraction of the Alberta tar sands? Canada will extract the oil anyway. If it doesn’t go to us, it will go to China. Net effect on the climate if we don’t take that oil? Zero.
Danger to a major aquifer, which the pipeline traverses? It is already crisscrossed by 25,000 miles of pipeline, enough to circle the Earth. Moreover, the State Department had subjected Keystone to three years of review — the most exhaustive study of any oil pipeline in U.S. history — and twice concluded in voluminous studies that there would be no significant environmental harm.
As Mr.Krauthammer notes, this is hardly the first time political considerations have superseded the country's needs for the administration:
Obama’s decision to wind down the Afghan surge in September 2012 is militarily inexplicable. It comes during the fighting season. It was recommended by none of his own military commanders. It is explicable only as a talking point for the final days of his reelection campaign.
At the height of the debt-ceiling debate last July, Obama pledged to veto any agreement that was not long term. Definition of long term? By another amazing coincidence, any deal large enough to get him past Election Day (and thus avoid another such crisis next year).
Tuesday it was revealed that last year the administration pressured Solyndra, as it was failing, to delay its planned October 28 announcement of layoffs until November 3 — the day after the midterm election.
Given that Canada will still be producing oil and given that China will be happy to buy it, the administration's stance here is inexplicable--outside of its political needs--especially in light of its recognition of the strategic importance of having a presence in the Pacific. After all, the biggest competitor there is China, by far. So on the one hand, we are attempting to offset China's influence, while on the other hand, we're providing them with the tools for that influence at out own expense. 

This is no way to set national policy, in my view, especially given the sluggish economy and the potential problems of the European debt crisis on the horizon. A project like the Keystone pipeline is a no-brainer...for anyone except a first-term President in dire straits, it would seem.

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, enviro impact would be larger if Chna gets the oil. Both because of transportation issues and because enviro regulations in US and in China are different :)