Our Views: A pipeline to the Gulf

If it was neither dignified nor appropriate for President Barack Obama to delay for years a decision on the Keystone pipeline project, we understand that politicians facing an election will placate their followers however they can, and many Democratic-leaning environmental groups oppose almost anything to do with oil and gas production.

The election is over, more than a year. The president has an obligation to make a decision on the giant project, and we are heartened at the bipartisan pressure he is getting to make the call that could have been made two years ago.

The pressure from Democratic senators, including Energy Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, might balance some of the party noise about the pipeline project, which will carry Canadian oil to Gulf Coast refineries. Yet so far the administration is on a firm stall, this time citing litigation over the proposed route as a new reason not to make a decision. Landrieu and Co. may be wasting their breath.

Over time, the “tar sands” of Alberta will be developed. If refined in the United States, according to stricter environmental standards, the pollution consequences will be far gentler than if the Albertan oil ends up in China.

We think the U.S. State Department experts’ report was right to back approval of the project and we urge the administration to support it.