Welcome to the "year of action." In last week's
The White House has touted the fact the president has a "phone and a pen" and he's not afraid to use them.
The president also vowed to cut red tape, and not for the first time. In 2013's State of the Union, he insisted that "my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits." And in 2012: "In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects."
All of this was in the wake of Obama's 2011 executive order requiring the elimination of "redundant, inconsistent or overlapping" regulations. The administration had hailed the order as an "unprecedented" move to boost growth. In an op-ed for the
Laymen might have the impression the president wants to cut red tape and take action on job-creating infrastructure, particularly oil and gas projects.
On Friday, the
In fact, the study concluded that if the pipeline from Canada is not built, it could result in a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. That's because the alternative means (trucks, rail, etc.) of transporting the fuel — which Canada says will be pumped no matter what — are more carbon intensive than a pipeline.
So we're a go, right? Au contraire, White House Chief of Staff
But it gets funnier. "What the president's role is now is to protect this process from politics," McDonough said, "let the experts, the expert agencies and the Cabinet secretaries make their assessments both of the study … as well as its impact on the national interest."
It all sounds so reasonable. The only problem is that the Keystone XL pipeline has been under constant study since the U.S. extension was proposed in 2008. Friday's State Department report — weighing in at 11 volumes! — was initiated for political purposes. In 2011, after extensive study, State called the pipeline the "preferred alternative."
The hitch is that environmental groups stupidly made the pipeline a litmus test issue for climate seriousness. And so Obama's EPA ordered a do-over that conveniently punted the decision until after the presidential election.
According to the Pew Research Center, the overwhelming top concern of Americans has been "strengthening the economy" (80% of respondents in 2014) and "improving the job situation" (74% in 2014). Dealing with global warming has ranked either last or second to last (29% in 2014).
But by all means, let's hear more talk about this being the year of action with heroic penmanship and red tape cutting. Because it appears talk is all we ever get.