Keystone XL Pipeline Was Nearly Studied to Death

Fri January 02, 2015 - National Edition
Giles Lambertson




Unlike your average construction project with a starting date and a scheduled completion date, some things seem to go on and on without resolution. Prime example: the Keystone XL project. It is way past time to begin to bring closure to the drama by finally building the pipeline.

As the world knows, Keystone has been hung up largely because of environmental concerns. EPA reviews and clearances are part of the construction industry’s regulatory framework, dating at least from the snail darter saga of 40 years ago. Raising awareness of endangered species and water purity is a good cause, but when legitimate concerns morph into intransigence, no one is well-served.

The XL extension has been studied and re-studied by the Obama administration for six years. Six years. Think about it. A London Bridge was completed in six years, the Hoover Dam in five, the Panama Canal in 10. Those were back-breaking, manual-labor projects that somehow were finished in pretty short order. The best the U.S. can do in 2014 is to continue to “study” the upper leg of a pipeline project.

The fact is, the administration’s own studies have concluded the project can be safely undertaken. Another fact is that the American people, whose soil and water it is that the EPA and administration are protecting, are overwhelmingly in favor of the pipeline being built. More facts: Construction of the remaining length of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline will produce thousands of jobs, many of them well-paid thanks to the David-Bacon Act, so unions are in favor, too.

The make-up of the incoming Congress is expected to force the issue now that the Senate will again become a deliberative and voting chamber, so the good news is that construction of the pipeline extension could begin in 2015. The sad news is that will be five years after it could have been completed. We can do better than that.