The original permit application for the project was submitted in 2008. The State Department exhaustively reviewed every aspect of the proposal.
The State Department issued three different press releases in the spring of 2011 -- in March, April, and June -- that included this sentence: "The U.S. Department of State expects to make a decision on whether to grant or deny the permit before the end of 2011."
The president's jobs council touted the economic benefits of pipelines in its official report, saying: "Policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary."
But what if such timely development comes into conflict with ideologically motivated, powerful environmental special interests? We now know where Obama comes down.
The environmental protest crowd decided to make this into a litmus test political issue, instead of the no-brainer source of jobs and affordable energy that it really is. Their professed concern is that developing energy from increasingly-important unconventional sources, like the Alberta oil sands, will increase global warming.
Even if they're right, they're wrong to oppose the pipeline. If the Canadians can't build a pipeline to U.S. refineries, they've already announced they'll build a pipeline to export terminals on the west coast of Canada instead, from which it will go to dirtier and less efficient Asian refineries. A lose-lose for the economy and the environment.
The State Department's exhaustive review process ended last summer, and they recommended approval. All that remained was the usually perfunctory approval of the president. But Obama ignored all the reviews, the evidence, and the recommendations of his own jobs council to side with the protest crowd. He said he would wait until after his re-election to decide whether to approve it.
Congress forced his hand in a bipartisan bill passed around Christmas. It required Obama to decide to either approve or reject the pipeline within 60 days. He rejected it.
The pipeline company resubmitted the application.
Now the State Department is conducting yet another review. A new public comment period has been opened through the end of July, and the State Department will then review those comments. Who knows how long that will take? This is despite the fact that the review issued last August all but approving the project was labeled "final."
Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, which needs the pipeline to efficiently bring some of the oil from its miraculous energy boom to market, observed: "In essence they're saying, 'OK, now we're going to start all over again.'"
With unemployment rates and gas prices still painfully high, the thousands of workers hoping for jobs building the pipeline and the millions of Americans who will benefit from the oil that will flow through it can't afford to wait. Obama needs to stop playing the endless-study game and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now.