Energy transportation is quickly becoming a major issue, particularly in regions with booming oil and gas production. The agriculture industry is upset because they can’t get access to rail cars to move their product. People living in communities along the tracks have safety concerns over train traffic and overtaxed rail. The propane shortages in the upper midwest this winter were exacerbated by rail lines so inundated with traffic that propane shipments couldn’t be made in a timely fashion.
And as all of this is going on, the Obama administration continues to sandbag an important piece of energy infrastructure in the form of the Keystone pipeline:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department will on Friday extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, said sources familiar with the plans, likely postponing a final decision on the controversial project until after the Nov. 4 midterm elections.
President Barack Obama has said he will make a final decision on whether to allow the pipeline connecting Canada’s oil sands region to Texas refiners but several government agencies were expected to weigh-in by the end of May.
North Dakota Democrats are seeking to make an issue out of delays in rail transport impacting the agriculture industry, blaming it on oil activity. But it’s hard to see how they’ll have a lot of credibility on that issue when the top elected Democrat in the country is doing this.
This isn’t just about the Keystone XL pipeline, though that’s an important bit of infrastructure that could take a little more than 10 percent of the oil produced in the Bakken oil fields off the roads and rails. This is about President Obama’s actions signaling to other anti-pipeline activists that they can hold up these projects indefinitely if they scream loud enough.
Case in point: The Sandpiper Pipeline which could take 225,000 barrels of oil today – roughly a quarter of the Bakken’s current output – from Tioga to Wisconsin which is facing heavy political opposition in Minnesota. That infrastructure would ease the the crowding on roads and rails, but whether or not it gets built is anyone’s guess.
We live in a democracy. There’s nothing with dissent against pipeline projects, however misguided some of us may feel it is. But there is something wrong with the government sandbagging those projects and pandering to environmental activists by refusing to make a determination one way or another.