The remarkable fall — really, the crash — of oil prices might call into question the economic value of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Or it may not.
A bill requiring approval of the pipeline was the first order of business for the new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, but the pipeline also has the support of the energy-state Democrats. Supporters now tell The Associated Press that they have 63 votes in favor of the bill, enough to overcome a filibuster but not a presidential veto. The House is expected to vote and pass a bill this week.
“The Congress on a bipartisan basis is saying we are approving this project,” said Sen. John Hoeven, of North Dakota, the chief Republican sponsor, at a news conference Tuesday. He said if the president chooses to veto the bill, he would work to attach it to a broader energy package or must-pass spending bills.
The bill is identical to one that failed to pass the Senate by a single vote in November, when Democrats were in control and Sen. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, pushed for a vote to save her Senate seat. She lost to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who sponsored the successful House bill approving the pipeline — a bit of political credit-sharing with a relative junior GOP House member.
If the Keystone bill had passed, it probably would not have been enough to save Landrieu’s seat; larger political factors were at work in the Louisiana electorate. But large economic factors are at work in the energy markets, too, and that has led some analysts to question the viability of Keystone when oil slipped below $50 a barrel.
We’re not just indulging in energy-state wishful thinking when we say that oil isn’t going to stay at $50 a barrel. Who can say how long this price slump will last? While court battles over Keystone’s almost 1,200-mile route are fought out, and a process of years of construction is undertaken, many of its critics might well find eventually that it’s pumping oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast refineries just fine.
The nation, and the world, continue to use energy. Fossil fuels are vital to our economy.
The tar sands that produce oil will produce oil. Will it be refined in America in an environmentally responsible manner, or will it be shipped to China or elsewhere?
We agree with Gov. Bobby Jindal on this one. “Approving this project should be a no-brainer,” Jindal said Tuesday. “It’s safe and it will create thousands of jobs. Government should get out of the way of job creation.”
The president has indulged in irresponsible stalling over this project for far too long. We hope that the GOP is successful in getting him to change his mind on it, because a veto fight over this is not good policy for the White House to embrace.