President Obama is expected to announce he is killing the Keystone XL pipeline project later today and will audaciously blame Republicans for forcing him to do it. Here is how White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer messaged on the decision last December: "The House bill simply shortens the review process in a way that virtually guarantees that the pipeline will NOT be approved." Obama is also expected to say today that TransCanada is free to reapply for the permit after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer habitat.
Both these talking points are completely bogus. The Keystone project has already been studied for three full years at a cost to TransCanada of $1.9 billion. The State Department has already completed one entire Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Another Environmental Impact Statement will provide zero additional environmental protection to anyone. But it will delay the project even further. Another EIS would push construction back somewhere between one and six years at a cost of up to $2 million.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality already identified a new route for the pipeline that would not threaten the Ogallala Aquifer. But environmentalists don't care about the Ogallala. They don't want Alberta's tar sands oil fields developed at all. No matter what the next EIS says, or when it is issued, the same environmental activists that sat on Obama's front lawn will sue to stop the pipeline in court.
Just look at the enviros opposition to TransCanada's efforts to build the southern portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma City to Houston. No aquifer threatened there. But the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has already threatened to block that portion too.
Preventing pipeline construction inflicts real harm on the U.S. economy. National Journal reported last month that inadequate oil transportation infrastructure caused a 40 cent rise in gas prices this year. National Journal estimates that those higher gas prices cost the economy 0.4 percent growth and 240,000 jobs.