Sensitivity Training: Team Obama Delays Keystone Decision (Again) To Look For Impacts In The Wrong Place

President Obama’s decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is like those Escher stairs — you keep climbing yet you never seem to get anywhere.

But it’s the metaphor from an unnamed Obama administration official explaining the umpteenth delay that caught my eye.

First, however, Reuters reported this “exclusive” last Friday:

The Obama administration is unlikely to make a decision on the Canada-to-Nebraska Keystone XL pipeline until late this year as it painstakingly weighs the project’s impact on the environment and on energy security, a U.S. official and analysts said on Friday.

The decision may not be made until November, December or even early 2014, said a U.S. official, as President Barack Obama will not rush the process, which still has a number of stages to work through. One of those stages has not even begun yet and will run for months.

The Administration is certainly giving pains. Whether it is taking them remains to be seen. But I digress.

So what kind of pains do they claim they are they taking?

“The president has to be able to show that the administration looked under every stone to ensure it knew as much as it possibly could about the impact of Keystone,” said the official, who did not want to be named given the sensitive nature of the project.

First off, yes, it’s true, the pipeline has a sensitive nature. Heck, it still cries at “It’s a Wonderful Life” not to mention “E.T.” and “Bambi.” Oh and forget entirely about watching “Titanic” with the tar sands pipeline, at least while we are rearranging the deck chairs.

Bottom line on Keystone’s sensitive nature: Almost anything will make it spring a leak. But don’t mention that in public, of course. The pipeline is very touchy about that. I digress again.

It’s this metaphor I liked: Team Obama has to show it “looked under every stone to ensure it knew as much as it possibly could about the impact of Keystone.”

Reuters notes, “The EPA had concerns about the level of emissions from Canada’s oil sands, where crude production is carbon-intensive. It also took issue with the State Department’s conclusion that the pipeline would have no effect on climate because the oil sands would make it to market whether or not the pipeline was approved.”

Team Obama is looking in the wrong place — in fact, it’s looking in the wrong direction entirely. The most worrisome impact of Keystone isn’t under every stone, heck, it isn’t under any stone. It is in the atmosphere, an accelerated change in the climate.

But whatever you do, don’t mention those climate impacts out loud. Turns out the pipeline is sensitive about them, too.