By Karl Gotthardt Canadian Editor
The Republican majority on the subcommittee quoted an email provided by Argonaut Private Equity, the investment firm that backed Solyndra and is owned by Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, that the Republicans say shows that the Energy Department wanted to delay the announcement of Solyndra’s layoff of 180 workers till the day after the Nov. 2, 2010 elections. According to the subcommittee, the layoffs were announced on Nov. 3, 2010, the day after the GOP landslide. ABC News
Politics, again, seem to play a role when it comes to the XL Keystone Pipeline, which is a pipeline that would deliver Alberta Oils sands crude from Hardesty, Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas, where it would remove the bitumen and refine the oil. The project is said to create 20,000 new jobs and inject $Billions into both the U.S. and Canadian economy. The approval process, which has been in place for 19 months, was due to be decided by the end of 2011. Environmental impact assessments, by both the State Department and the Department of Energy, concluded that the impact of the project on the environment would be minimal.
Major protests of anti-oil sands activists, including celebrities from Hollywood, have taken place on Capitol Hill for weeks. The protests culminated with a human circle of activists joining hands around the White House two weeks ago. Shortly thereafter the State Department announced that the decision would be delayed, subject to yet another study, claiming health and safety issues.
In the meantime the Nebraska legislature, which was concerned that the pipeline would traverse a sensitive Aquafer in the Nebraska Sandhills, took control of the situation and passed legislation, which gave Nebraska the power to look for a route acceptable to Nebraskans. Trans Canada Pipelines then told Nebraskans that it would chart a route acceptable to Nebraskans. The rerouting would increase the length of the pipeline by approximately 30 miles. Despite the efforts of the Nebraska legislature and Trans Canada, the State Department announced yesterday that the decision would be delayed to at least the first quarter of 2013. Trans Canada had already surveyed and investigated seven alternate routes.
In any case, it wouldn’t have made sense for the U.S. State Department, which has primary responsibility for approving the pipeline, to ignore or resist Nebraska’s efforts. Arranging for a delay to look for a route more acceptable to Nebraskans was the right move. This week, TransCanada told Nebraskans it would chart a course that doesn’t traverse the Sandhills.What’s not entirely clear is why the delay should have to be so long. The State Department says it will take until the first quarter of 2013 to assess the environmental impact of a new path for the pipeline, because that’s “the time typically required for environmental reviews of similar scope by other agencies.” But TransCanada claims to have already investigated seven alternative routes that would avoid the Sandhills. Shouldn’t that make it possible to study the environmental impact of a detour relatively quickly?
The State Department announcement yesterday delays the decision beyond the 2012 Presidential election. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a one on one with President Obama on the issue in Honolulu on Sunday and Alberta Premier Alison Redford visited Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, yesterday. Today Redford meets with business leaders in New York.
The Obama Administration, however, seems bound and determined to kick the can down the road beyond the election. Obama needs his environmental base to come out and vote to improve his chances for a second term. In the end the project will be approved because it makes sense both economically and from a national security point of view. While the project has been kicked down the road to seemingly appease Obama’s left base, in the end he will also betray them.
With seemingly political interference in the Solyndra case and while the President runs around the country, on the tax payers dime, taunting his Jobs Act wit,h the motto “We can’t wait,” could it be that he is prepared to risk 20,000 jobs to save his own?
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