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No more excuses on Keystone XL

The list of reasons for why the Obama administration should proceed with final regulatory approval of the Keystone XL pipeline continues to lengthen.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman recently gave his blessing to an adjustment to the pipeline’s planned route in the Cornhusker State. The re-routing satisfies local environmental concerns about the project’s potential effects on the Ogallala Aquifer. Judging by the governor’s action and analysis by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, those concerns have been addressed.

By validating the environmental safety of Keystone XL – which would link Canada’s oil sands and the oil fields of North Dakota’s Bakken Shale to Gulf Coast refineries – Nebraska officials have removed the principal objection President Obama cited when he initially denied approval of the pipeline a year ago.

Given that the comprehensive review by the president’s own State Department found little environmental risk to building the pipeline – and that a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators and a bipartisan collection of 146 U.S. House members have recently written the president urging him to green light the project – one would hope the Obama administration will finally offer its formal approval for Keystone XL to proceed.

Yet last week a Reuters report quoted an unnamed U.S. official saying we’ll have to continue waiting. “It’s not weeks until the final decision,” the official said. “It’s months.”

One year ago I noted that going forward with Keystone XL “would have created more than 20,000 construction jobs and more than 118,000 spin-off jobs for local businesses along the route at a time when the economy is struggling.”

The necessity for that economic activity is even more pronounced today, given the disturbing news that the U.S. economy actually contracted during the 4th quarter of 2012.

Which reminds me of the testimony provided by one labor leader, who told Congress that Keystone XL “is not just a pipeline – it’s a lifeline.” Who better to testify to the job-creating and job-saving potential of this massive infrastructure project?

The environmental objections to Keystone XL continue to “wither away,” as The Wall Street Journal noted recently. Meanwhile the economic imperative to proceed with this needed project only grows stronger.

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