Insiders Say Pipeline Not Dead Yet

We’ve told you more than a few times in recent months that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is an important project for Indiana and our country. Check out this two-minute video. After all, the $7 billion project will bring 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the U.S.

When the Obama administration recently delayed a final ruling (citing the need to reroute in Nebraska, but realistically putting off a politically tricky decision until after the 2012 election), many considered it a death knell for the proposal. But a group of energy and environmental insiders put together by the National Journal team in Washington differs with that assumption. Check out the latest.

“As long as there is substantial money to be made from developing the tar sands, they will be developed,” one Insider said.

Insiders predict (64% to 36%) that the economic and political reasons for the pipeline will eventually win out, arguing that the oil industry may hold out hope for a future Republican administration and GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress—under which the project would likely win swift approval.

Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada said that it will move the route out of Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sandhills area. The State Department last week proposed the rerouting to protect a massive aquifer there. Company officials, who had claimed that such a reroute wasn’t possible, said that the move will likely require adding 30 to 40 more miles of pipe to its 1,700-mile proposal.

President Obama was accused last week for making a political play with the pipeline, because the reroute would delay the decision past the 2012 election. For that same reason, though, most Energy Insiders believe the project will ultimately be approved. “Eventually, politics will be set aside,” said one.

In terms of politics, Insiders were split on whether the reroute decision and the consequent delay would benefit Obama. Just over half – 51 percent – said that the delay would help the president; 49 percent said it would not.

The delay until after the 2012 election “is a significant indicator of just how bad the Obama insiders think their election prospects are right now,“ one Insider said. In appeasing environmentalists but sacrificing some independent votes, the administration wanted to ensure it held onto its political base and contributions, Insiders said.