As gas pumps begin to flow again across much of the southeastern part of the United States, there is considerable chatter about ramping up construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline – and for good reason. The cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline last week exposed tangible vulnerabilities and revealed visible limitations in the nation’s energy infrastructure. To wit: Too many people are dependent upon too few pipelines.
Citing environmental concerns, the new administration halted construction of the Keystone XL with a flourish by rescinding the permit for the oil conduit within hours of Joe Biden’s inauguration. However, last week Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm preached the gospel of pipelines during a White House press conference by stating that they “are the best way to transport” fuel.
But Wait, There’s More
With the backdrop of skyrocketing gas prices, long fuel lines a la the 1970s, and empty pumps running up and down the eastern seaboard, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer chose now as the time to keep her campaign promise and try to shut down the Enbridge Pipeline that runs to Canada. Appearing tone-deaf to the dire circumstances of millions of Americans resulting from the Colonial debacle, the Democrat governor said, “These oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac are a ticking timebomb, and their continued presence violates the public trust and poses a grave threat to Michigan’s environment and economy.”
Democrats and environmentalists are reportedly elated by Whitmer’s move, but who out there is lobbying for John Q. Public to have enough gas to get to work? I’m glad you asked.
Nineteen state attorneys general sent a missive to the 46th president to reverse his position on the Keystone XL construction. The letter makes several salient points:
“Americans depend upon safe and secure energy supplies, which is why we must build and maintain robust energy infrastructure that is resilient in the face of accidents and sabotage. A temporary shutdown of one pipeline’s full-capacity operations shouldn’t bring half the country to the brink. We need more safe and clean energy sources. But your Administration’s current approach exchanges those fact-based conclusions for the faddish preoccupations of your coastal elite constituencies.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of 21 states is suing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his part in stopping construction of the Keystone XL. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, claims Biden’s executive order harms Americans. The suit argues that only Congress has the constitutional authority to stop the Keystone XL – not the president. As well, the legal action reasons that the XL will keep the U.S. energy independent, is safer than rail, and will keep costs for fuel products down.
But when did logic ever get in the way of politics? Thus far, Biden & Company have refused to rescind the order stopping construction of the Keystone XL. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told a prominent Washington newspaper that talk of restarting the Keystone in light of the Colonial Pipeline debacle was “really apples and oranges.”
However, reason dictates when dealing with fuel shortages, two pipelines are better than one. Current environmental concerns are negligible considering the number of bad actors like DarkSide who would love nothing more than to make some pocket change by holding Americans hostage with another fuel cyberattack. Such as it is, Colonial paid DarkSide a ransom somewhere in the vicinity of $4-5 million to get its pipeline back in working order. Considering the success of such an endeavor, it’s likely we have not seen the last of such calamities.
Time to Change Course
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has postulated six leadership qualities that a president must have to be considered truly great. Among those are empathy, listening skills, and self-reflection. Should Biden employ any one of these character traits, he might realize that the time is now to change course on construction of the Keystone Pipeline for the good of the people he has sworn to serve.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.