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Five Years and Counting: Where’s the Pipeline?

Posted: September 20, 2013 at 8:00 am   /   by

 Obama Bows to Environmental Movement

It’s been exactly five years since TransCanada applied to the State Department to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. We’re still waiting.

The delay has been caused by one man – Barack Obama. Beholden to the environmental movement and its considerable campaign cash, the president has dredged up every lame excuse possible to delay the project.

Technically, the pipeline decision is up to Secretary of State John Kerry because it passes an international border between Canada and the United States. But the real decision-maker is the president himself and his minions in the Democratic Party.

Now, a growing collection of bipartisan lawmakers in Washington is growing impatient. They dread more delays and an extension of Obama’s decision into the sixth year since the TransCanada application.

Evidence in favor of the pipeline is formidable. More than 80 percent of Americans favor the project, as well as major labor unions and every state along the pipelines route. Clear majorities in the Senate and the House support the project.

The pipeline will have the capacity to transport over 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil sands region of Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It will support the creation of about 42,000 jobs and will put $2 billion into workers’ pockets.

So all the facts are favorable. The pipeline would increase American energy dependence, create well-paying jobs, and provide tax revenue for states along the route.

The president’s refusal to approve the pipeline application is an insult to American ingenuity and industrial capacity. When we put our mind to it, we build it.

America built the Pentagon in two years, the Space Shuttle Discovery in four years, and the Hoover Dam in five years. Now we are close to entering the six-year since the pipeline approval process began.

Following is a timeline that traces the pipeline’s history:

Major Points in Keystone XL’s Five-Year Struggle

  • 9/19/08 – TransCanada applies to State Department to construct Keystone XL pipeline.
  • 10/15/10 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicates the Obama Administration is “inclined” to approve the pipeline application.
  • 7/25/11 – The Obama Administration says, “The Department of State has been working diligently to complete the permit decision process for the Keystone XL pipeline and has publicly committed to reaching a decision before December 31, 2011.”
  • 11/10/11 – President Obama announces his administration will not make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline application until after the 2012 election. A decision is expected in early 2013, after the administration identifies a new route.
  • 12/23/11 – The House and Senate unanimously approve, and the President signs into law, legislation requiring approval of the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days unless the President determines the project does not serve the national interest.
  • 1/18/12 – President Obama formally rejects the Keystone XL pipeline application, citing complaints about the route. By this time, TransCanada has already agreed to an alternative that addresses environmental concerns and satisfies local officials.
  • 3/8/12 – President Obama personally lobbies the Senate to kill an amendment calling for congressional approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Eleven Democrats join all voting Republicans in favor of the project.
  • 3/22/12 – President Obama misleadingly takes credit for expediting the construction of the Oklahoma to Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone XL project — over which he has no actual approval authority.
  • 5/4/12 – TransCanada reapplies, using its new route.
  • 3/22/13 – The Senate calls for approval of the pipeline by a vote of 62 to 37, with 17 Democrats joining all Republicans in support of the project.
  • 6/25/13 – President Obama says he will consider the pipeline’s effect on the climate in making his decision to approve or reject it.
  • 7/27/13 – President Obama sneers at the 42,000 jobs the Keystone XL pipeline would create as a “blip relative to the need.”


Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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Five Years and Counting: Where’s the Pipeline?