Well, I suppose it's an improvement that the Obama administration is at least going to finally own a decision, albeit the absolute wrong decision if you're at all disposed toward wealth, jobs, free trade, or national security:
The State Department will reject the controversial Keystone oil sands pipeline on Wednesday, The Hill has confirmed.
A source closely following the issue said the State Department will make an announcement at 3 p.m. While the administration is expected to reject TransCanada Corp.’s permit application, it will allow the company to re-apply, according to the source.
The White House has signaled that the administration is unlikely to approve the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline under the timeline required in December’s payroll tax cut extension law, which mandates a decision by Feb. 21. ...
House and Senate Republicans have signaled in recent days that they will push new legislation to win approval if the White House rejects or delays a permit.
The environmental lobby has been very vocal about the high priority of stopping this project; the roped-in opposing Democrats cite ecological concerns and the ensuing greenhouse gas emissions as the major dealbreakers; and the White House is claiming they haven't had adequate time for "careful consideration" of the project (which is utter baloney--this project has been on the table for years). But if we don't absorb the jobs and wealth that will come from trading with Canada on this one, somebody else will (cough, cough, China--Canadian PM Stephen Harper is scheduled to visit next month).
I'm very wary of the idea that we as a country need to be necessarily energy-independent--buying goods and services from wherever they are produced most cheaply and efficiently is the route to global prosperity (and remember, greenies: wealthier societies are healthier societies!). However, we most definitely would like the opportunity to buy energy resources from ourselves, and by completely taking ourselves out of the game, with scant permitting and pipeline rejections and so forth, we miss out on wealth and jobs and empower nations like Iran.
It still doesn't look as if this is the inescapable end of the whole project, as the company will continue to explore alternate routes and the Obama administration will allow them to reapply, but the administration's failure to get this project off the ground is the cause of hefty opportunity costs for the American people.