This week, the U.S. State Department gave the Keystone XL pipeline an environmental thumbs up. In its latest report on the project, issued Friday, the department stated that Keystone wouldn't have a significant environmental impact and wouldn't create unacceptable levels of greenhouse gases. To the contrary, the report notes that not building Keystone would likely lead to the release of more greenhouse emissions given the alternative methods that would be use to transport the oil -- a detail not lost on Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who has been talking it up.
So how much longer can Obama stall before making a decision? Can he ignore the 42,000 jobs and $3.4-billion the report suggests Keystone would bring to the U.S. economy? Sadly, the answer is probably yes. There's not much of an upside for Obama to pulling the trigger on this one: Any decision he makes will inevitably alienate some major part of his constituency, either environmentalists or unionists. Which leaves the painful hemming, hawing and delaying as the most politically expedient option, especially given the 90-day comment period called for in the report. But with this largely positive State Department analysis now out, Obama's options for claiming to be waiting for yet more expert opinions are at the very least dwindling. And that's something that should make Stephen Harper happy.
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