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White House delay of Keystone XL pipeline ‘gutless’, according to union leader

A final decision by the Obama administration on the proposed expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline has been delayed again.

Following a well known strategy of releasing controversial documents and decisions late on Friday afternoons in the hopes that they will receive less attention, practiced for decades by both parties, the State Department announced on Good Friday they were again delaying approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. While previous delays came with a deadline, the most recent is indefinite. What is definite is that a final decision will not be made until after the November 2014 elections.

As usual, the delay on a decision on the pipeline resulted in accusations that the White House is bowing to the more extreme elements of the Democratic Party, and that the continued stalling is politics at its worse. What makes this response unusual is that those voicing their support of the XL include an ever growing number of Democrats. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), is one such Democrat.

O’Sullivan issued a statement soon after the administration announced the delay. It is clear from the statement that a growing number of the very people that President Obama and the Democratic leadership continually claim to defend, the working middle class, are growing tired of jobs being the cost for the financial support of deep-pocketed members of the base, like Tom Steyer, that have promised millions ($100 million from Steyer alone) to Democrats that oppose the pipeline and threatened to target those, even Democrats, that support the project.

O’Sullivan called the delay “another gutless move” in the second sentence of his statement and went on to say “Once again, the Administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country.”

LIUNA has more than 500,000 members and includes construction laborers, thousands of which would work on the pipeline if approved, that are being directly impacted by the delay tactics that have been going on since before the 2012 presidential election.

There are six incumbent Democrats that are in tight Senate races in red-leaning states that support the pipeline. Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Kay Hagan (North Carolina), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Mark Begich (Alaska), John Walsh (Montana), and Mark Warner (Virginia) have urged Obama to approve Keystone because they believe the delay hurts their reelection efforts.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), Chair of the Democratic National Committee, said during NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the delay on the Keystone XL pipeline decision will not “play a significant role” in those, or any, races. There are six Democratic Senators that hope she is correct.

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