Joe Biden wants to turn the page on Donald Trump. But on Day One, he’s copying his methods.
In fact, Barack Obama’s administration (Joe Biden, vice president) did exactly what Trump was criticized for doing, before many thought of the latter as a serious candidate.
Remember the “national security” implications of importing Canadian aluminum or French wines? Trump was rightly criticized for abusing the language of a 1960s law to do what he wanted.
He used executive orders, on the flimsiest of excuses, to raise tariffs without regard for Congress.
One-man rule, many Democrats cried. Politics instead of policy, they moaned.
Here we go again.
When the mammoth Keystone pipeline project began, approved after long environmental reviews and court fights, it was politics that led President Obama to jump in. He abused the fact that the pipeline would cross the nation’s borders to try to block its construction. The State Department’s approval, typically a formality, became a political weapon against the pipeline.
This was an abuse of an unrelated law, pure and simple, Trumpian before Donald.
The latter reversed the Obama administration’s position. Given the extensive reviews the project had undergone, that was a more responsible decision.
Now, Biden uses his new position to halt it. But this has gone long beyond a policy shift; the pipeline is actually under construction.
By a stroke of a pen, Biden threatens thousands of construction jobs. So much for old Joe, friend of the working man.
This is a political panic, not an environmentally sound decision: Pipelines are by far the safest — and greenest — ways to transport large volumes of oil or other fuels.
The alternative to the completion of the Keystone pipeline system linking Canadian oil fields to Gulf Coast refineries should be obvious. While energy prices are very low now, because of the pandemic, one day oil will be in greater demand.
The Canadians, maltreated by two U.S. administrations, will sell their oil to China or other buyers by tankers — another riskier means of transport — and the oil will be used in Chinese refineries and factories with much lower environmental standards than those in the United States.
Fighting Keystone was the wrong battle but it became a political cause and Biden in last year's campaign folded to the pressure. Today he is no better than a Trump, using an executive order to avoid a fight in Congress, where legislating is supposed to take place.
All of this because some radical sectors of the environmental movement see petroleum as a satanic force instead of the resource that we should use intelligently and wisely, with greater regard over time to the global climate crisis.
In Louisiana, where energy and shipping — the latter hurt by Trump's tariffs — are so important to our economy, we should fear the precedents of three administrations, executive orders without the substance of thoughtful review and due process of law.