Our Views: President Obama ignores the evidence, bows to politics with Keystone veto _lowres

Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, left, with 350 DC, and Lindsey Halvorson, 20, a student at American University, gather up their signs after attending a celebration gathering with other opponents of Keystone XL oil pipeline, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in support of President Barack Obama's veto of the legislation, outside the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ordinarily, we’d be somewhat sympathetic to President Barack Obama’s stated position on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, as it is a matter of a president’s prerogative on foreign policy.

Because the pipeline will bring Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast, the U.S. government must approve its construction. As much as we in Louisiana feel a kinship with our Canadian cousins, it is a foreign country, technically.

So the president very early on said that he would not bow to Congress’ demands that he approve the pipeline.

That was six years ago.

Whatever question of presidential prerogative has long been lost in Obama’s petulance and willful neglect of the evidence about the Keystone project.

He has refused to approve it despite a State Department conclusion that the heavy Canadian crude will be refined elsewhere — probably in China — with worse impacts on the global environment.

He has refused to lead, too, using pointless re-reviews and legal disputes over the pipeline’s route to say a decision is premature.

The root of this is politics.

Obama is sensitive to the opinion of environmentalists, and that’s by and large a good thing: America needs energy, but it should be produced in the most environmentally conscious methods.

One strand of environmental thinking is that oil is the enemy, that fossil fuels — indisputably, a contributor to global pollution — are something that can be discarded at will in the U.S. and international economy.

This is almost the dictionary definition of stuck on stupid.

If there were a reliable alternative to oil and gas in today’s economy, people would buy it — but there isn’t and won’t be for decades at least. We fully support alternative energy. Yet in the dispute over Keystone, one of the symbolic issues in the energy debate, Obama is catering to an anti-oil sentiment that is not based on reality and certainly has nothing to do with whether the power of the presidency is diminished by Congress’ action on Keystone.

It is only the third veto of Obama’s two terms. Maybe it’s not purely “spiteful,” as described by the ultra-partisan U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who knows a thing or two about spiteful opposition.

But the president should drop the phony argument that this issue is about the presidency; it’s about his politics, and he has abused his privileges so long that in this case he does not deserve to get to exercise them.