ON TUESDAY, President Obama’s Jobs Council reminded the nation that it is still hooked on fossil fuels, and will be for a long time. “Continuing to deliver inexpensive and reliable energy,” the council reported, “is going to require the United States to optimize all of its natural resources and construct pathways (pipelines, transmission and distribution) to deliver electricity and fuel.”
It added that regulatory “and permitting obstacles that could threaten the development of some energy projects, negatively impact jobs and weaken our energy infrastructure need to be addressed.”
Mr. Obama’s Jobs Council could start by calling out . . . the Obama administration.
On Wednesday, the State Department announced that it recommended rejecting the application of TransCanada Corp. to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and Mr. Obama concurred. The project would have transported heavy, oil-like bitumen from Alberta — and, potentially, from unconventional oil deposits in states such as Montana — to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast.
Environmentalists have fought Keystone XL furiously. In November, the State Department tried to put off the politically dangerous issue until after this year’s election, saying that the project, which had undergone several years of vetting, required further study. But Republicans in Congress unwisely upped the political gamesmanship by mandating that State make a decision by Feb. 21. Following Wednesday’s rejection, TransCanada promised to reapply — so the administration has again punted the final decision until after the election.
We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question. Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen — with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in the ground — but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude — just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn’t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.