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 November 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. A dispute over the proposed route of the pipeline has stalled the project in Nebraska, though, and officials will cite that uncertainty in its announcement on Friday justifying the delay.
This postpones the decision until after the November election, it
would spare President Barack Obama a politically wrenching decision on
whether to approve the pipeline, angering his green base and
environmentally minded campaign donors – or reject it, endangering
pro-pipeline Democrats such as Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.
But it will also inspire renewed complaints from Republicans that
Obama is politicizing and dragging out an energy project that has
already waited more than five years for approval.
Perhaps the reason for the delay can be found in this poll:
The poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance, found that more than three-quarters of likely voters in four states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — “said they will consider a candidate’s position on energy issues, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, before deciding whom they will support.”
More than two-thirds of likely voters in these four states support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) support construction of the oil pipeline. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), however, does not.
Whether or not these Senate Democrats support Keystone XL may prove irrelevant depending on what action President Obama takes. The poll found that voters in these four states would be less likely to support a Democratic incumbent if the White House rejects the proposed oil pipeline.