After a way too protracted deliberation process, President Obama has finally rejected the building of the Keystone XL pipeline…a project against which many Native Americans, including myself, have actively protested. Of course, it comes as tar sand oil has become less cost effective to bring to market, after the Canadian company leading the effort has lost enthusiasm, and just before the recent budget deal will flood the market with oil reserves for a short time. It simply isn’t cost effective at present. But, it happened!
This issue has become much more political than it should have been, becoming a symbolic fight between the Obama administration and conservative groups. Nothing new there! Promises that it will bring jobs have been way over inflated, with an estimated 35 domestic jobs created after its construction (2000 or so during the 3 year construction), a small number compared to what an adequately funded domestic infrastructure bill would create! Claims that it would help the US be energy independent were also skewed as the goal was to bring the oil to the international market, not jut to US markets…our system does not target oil in this manner exclusively for domestic use.
Unfortunately, this was never about jobs or energy security, it was about winning. Keystone XL has become a political football. Which really means political boomerang because certain groups do not lose graciously. So, I expect it to pop back on on the radar at some point…even if the company proposing it has lost enthusiasm. In DC, winning is sometimes much more important than doing the right, or smart thing!
One issue I never understood about this revolves around issues of eminent domain, the right of the government to confiscate private land for “public good.” Can the US government confiscate your land to help a foreign company? Not sure, but it is an intriguing question! That’s where the fight begins for Native Americans, land owners, farmers, and environment protects.
So, we won for now. But just as with everything in Indian Country, we have to stay vigilant when it comes to government policy and its enforcement.
Republican presidential candidates are already vowing to overturn this decision if elected. Watch the horizon for that boomerang!