Is the attention everyone paying to the Keystone XL oil pipeline too much, not enough, or just right?
The proposed transcontinental project, which was first submitted for the necessary State Department approval in September 2008, is back in the limelight in the wake of comments President Obama recently made in which he belittled the number of jobs the project could create. "They keep on talking about this -- an oil pipeline coming down from Canada that's estimated to create about 50 permanent jobs -- that's not a jobs plan," Obama said of Republicans last week during a speech in Tennessee. He made similar remarks in an interview with The New York Times earlier last week. His comments triggered a firestorm of reaction on both sides of this polarizing debate.
The State Department is expected to soon release its final environmental review of the project (the second one it's done since 2008). Could this change the debate somehow, or are both sides too entrenched in their positions?
How did the country, and specifically Washington, get to this point where one pipeline has become such a focal, all-encompassing point of contention in what is a vast, complex world of energy and environmental policy? What do you think prompted Obama to make these comments about the pipeline?
What kind of precedent is this debate setting for regulatory reviews of other internationally focused projects, such as the coal-export terminals in the Northwest and natural-gas export facilities around the country?