Editorial Round-Up: Divided Response to Keystone XL Pipeline Delay

The nation's newspaper editorial boards had mixed reactions to the Obama Administration's decision to explore new routes for the Keystone XL pipeline.
by | November 17, 2011

Upon news that the U.S. State Department would explore other routes to take the Keystone XL oil pipeline, editorial board reactions were mixed. Some newspapers applauded the ecological sensitivity of the department's decision; others worried that regulatory speed bumps were impeding a project that could create jobs.

In Nebraska, where the Sandhills region had been formerly square in the path of the pipeline, the response was expectedly jubilant. "Break out the champagne!" the Lincoln Journal Star's editorial board exclaimed Nov. 11, calling the department's decision "a victory against long odds." There is still more work to be done, though, the newspaper said. The Nebraska Legislature must pass regulations to protect the Sandhills region during this special session rather than waiting until its regular session next year, it asserted.

"The senators are in Lincoln and primed to take action...This is a one-time opportunity," the Journal Star wrote. "We think the pipeline needs to be built, just not through the Sandhills."

The Omaha World-Herald deemed the State Department's decision "prudent" in its Nov. 13 editorial. Most importantly, "it guaranteed Nebraska legislators time to decide whether the state needs its own law on pipeline routes.". While there may have been political motivations on the part of the Obama Administration, the World-Herald noted, the Sandhills "are worth another look."

Other newspapers, though, claimed that those preoccupied with environmental impact that the Keystone pipeline could have are forgetting the potential jobs that could come from such an extensive project.

On Nov. 14, The Detroit News, picking up on upcoming election-year overtones suggested by the World-Journal, chastised the Obama's administration delay of the pipeline. The project has been credited to create 18,000 construction jobs. "Obama's waffling may appease the president's base," the newspaper said. "But it's not likely to help him with the hundreds of thousands of Americans who want jobs, and want them now."

The Beaumont Enterprise in Texas concurred with that assessment Nov. 15, saying the administration's decision was a "blatantly political move designed to placate the environmentalists who have supported Obama so strongly." Beyond the construction jobs promised, increased economic activity spurred by the pipeline "would bring thousands of good-paying jobs to every community it touches," the Enterprise said.

"Millions of jobless people want to work, now. Millions of others are facing foreclosure, now. They don't want to wait until 2013 for a decision on the pipeline -- which would take at least a year to build even if it is OK'd," the Beaumont newspaper pointed out. "The president and all elected officials must move beyond talk if they want get our sputtering recovery going. They must help employers create jobs instead of finding reasons to block them."

On Nov. 11, The New York Times credited the federal government with making "just the right call." The newspaper concluded that the president had toed a difficult line: labor unions want the pipeline to create jobs; environmentalists are worried about its ecological impact. Both are among his key supporters.

"Yet so many basic questions remained unresolved -- about the pipeline's environmental and economic impacts, about whether the country actually needs the oil," the Times asserted, "that it was reasonable to decide that a decision was impossible without further study."

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