Washington - Friday, a day after Pres. Barack Obama asked Democrat candidates facing elections in November to campaign on Obamacare, the White House announced another delay on the Keystone XL pipeline project.
The president asked Democrats to favorably intertwine the Affordable Care Act with their campaigns, but has ignored the pleas of 11 Senate Democrats calling for him to approve the pipeline in a joint letter earlier this week.
The State Department said today that agencies will be given "additional time" to ponder a decision part because litigation currently before Nebraska's supreme court might affect the pipeline's eventual path in that state. At least six of the 11 Democrats who wrote Obama asking him to move forward on approving the Keystone project are in tight races that could determine whether Republicans win the six Senate seats needed to take control of the U.S. Senate in November.
The administration's latest delay in making a decision on the pipeline that would carry crude south from Canada to American refineries could be a signal to left-wing environmentalists that he is willing to abandon endangered Democrats to keep them happy.
Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike were quick to condemn Mr. Obama for his indecision and political missteps on the pipeline issue. For their part, Senate Democrats in energy states already being hammered over Obamacare fear that the administration's latest indefinite delay on the Keystone project's approval could be the last nail required in their political coffins.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.H., immediately released a statement calling administration's delay "absolutely ridiculous." Heitkamp said that this process been ongoing over a five-year period, indicating it was past time for the administration to make a decision.
Republicans argue the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs and help the U.S. become more energy independent. Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry called the decision "shameful," particularly since it means another spring construction season will come and go without the project.
The administration had not worked its way through the last 90-day review period of the Keystone XL pipeline project when it announced the new delay. The administration claims it has received approximately 2.5 million public comments about the project and needs more time to study them.
Democrats in favor of permitting the pipeline consider the delay the answer to their written requests to approve the project and are not pleased. One of the letter's signatories, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who threw her belated support behind Obamacare in 2010, said the administration's stall amounts to an "indefinite delay" of the project.
"This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable," she said. "By making it clear that they will not move the process forward until there is a resolution in a lawsuit in Nebraska, the administration is sending a signal that the small minority who oppose the pipeline can tie up the process in court forever. There are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity and North America's energy security at stake."
While the decision to further delay making a decision on pipeline permitting is seen as a triumph for the left wing of the Democratic Party, analysts see the move as particularly risky business since the administration's Middle East policies are in shambles and Russia is threatening to cut off oil and gas supplies to Western Europe.