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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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KEYSTONE VETO 

This move is purely political


By BEN BOYCHUK 

Manhattan Institute’s City Journal 

What a foolish, dishonest veto President Barack Obama delivered to Congress last week. The facts plainly contradict the president’s rationale for blocking legislation that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed.

The president claims this particular act of Congress “cuts short thorough consideration of the issues that could bear on our national interest.” But the administration has been dithering over Keystone for six years. How much more thorough could this process be?

Not much more thorough. The proposal has gone through multiple levels of federal and state review. But at this point, the president is looking for any reason to delay or deny the pipeline.

And just about any excuse will do. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Feb. 2 suggested that maybe building the pipeline isn’t such a great idea because, after all, global oil prices are really low right now. But nobody expects low prices to last. Gasoline costs are already creeping upward as U.S. and overseas oil companies ratchet back their production.

Incidentally, this is the same EPA that concluded in its final environmental review for the State Department a year ago that Keystone wouldn’t significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. Talk about an “inconvenient truth.”

In reality, the administration’s rationale for blocking the $8 billion Keystone project is purely political, a concession to the environmental left that constitutes a sizable fraction of the Democratic Party’s base.

Groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, as well as well-heeled activists such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., insist that it’s not enough for the United States to embrace renewable energy — it must also reject fossil fuel.

But Canada is going to develop its tar sands oil fields no matter what the United States decides. If the administration ultimately rejects the project, Canada will simply build a pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver, where those hundreds of thousands of barrels a day will be exported to a wealthier and more energy-hungry China.

Environmentalists “win” by depriving Americans of jobs and denying the U.S. market another source of petroleum.

But, if you’re inclined to think fossil fuels present a mortal threat, then the environment will “lose” because the oil will be produced and burned, anyway — and the United States will be left worse off in the bargain. 

Reach Ben Boychuk at .