COMMENTARY | One thing that the aggravating delays of the Keystone XL pipeline have done is to reveal the mindset of the ruling class when it involves building big projects. It is a sobering reminder of how politics hampers commerce.
First, President Obama defended the fact that the government has mulled whether or not to build the pipeline longer than it took to fight World War II.
“‘There is a process that has been gone through. And I know it’s been extensive and at times, I’m sure, [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen [Harper] feels, a little too laborious,’ said Obama, flanked by Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, during a joint press conference at the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.
“But Obama added that the lengthy study of the pipeline’s effects was how the U.S. made ‘decisions about something that could potentially have [a] significant impact on America’s national economy and our national interests.’
“‘The State Department has gone through its review. There’s now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in,’ Obama continued. ‘That will be evaluated by Secretary of State [John] Kerry, and we’ll make a decision at that point.'”
It makes one positively wax nostalgic for Franklin Roosevelt, the much overrated president who lengthened the Great Depression. FDR did know something that the current president did not, that building things like dams and roads, not to mention pipelines, tends to create jobs and put money in people’s pockets. There was no environmental lobby in the 1930s to gum up the works or pay off politicians to put roadblocks in the way of job creating infrastructure.
One suspects that if a billionaire radical like Tom Steyer had decided to spend tens of millions of dollars to stop infrastructure projects under the New Deal, Roosevelt and the media at the time would have condemned him as an “economic royalist,” a catch all phrase for rich opponents of FDR at the time. President Roosevelt would certainly not cringe in the face of all of that big money, as modern Democrats seem to be doing.
Finally, to be even more depressing, even if the current president were to get some courage in him, the courts are still a useful tool for slowing down the pipeline. A Nebraska court has invalidated an alternate route for the pipeline approved by that state’s governor on the grounds that the power to do so resides with the Nebraska Public Service Commission. While the commission is likely to approve the new route as well, this looks like it is just one step in a long, legal battle with energy independence and tens of thousands of jobs at stake,