President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

On Friday, January 31, the U.S. State Department released their final environmental analysis of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The results? The pipeline would have a negligible increase in carbon emissions, as opposed to other ways to harness the oil sands of Canada. For those unfamiliar with it, the Keystone XL is a proposed pipeline that would transport oil from the oil sands of Canada through the Midwestern U.S., ending in Texas.

Republicans have long been strong supporters of the pipeline, citing the creation of construction jobs throughout the U.S., as well as an estimated $3.5 billion cash infusion into the economy. Democrats and climate change activists have been wary of the project, worried about the pipeline’s environmental impact and the nation’s continued reliance on fossil fuels.

The recent report has called into question the legitimacy of environmentalists’ claims and leave the White House with one clear option: approve the pipeline. If there was ever a time to capitulate, pick your battles, and move on to the next fight, that time would be now. Obama suffers from low approval numbers and Democrats are in real danger of losing the Senate in the 2014 midterms. Finally approving the pipeline allows the administration to focus on other, more politically advantageous issues, and could provide an electoral boost to vulnerable Democratic incumbents, such as Alaska’s Mark Begich and Arkansas’s Mark Pryor. Although Obama might anger climate change activists and Democratic donors by approving the pipeline, there’s simply no persuasive and logical reason to continue blocking the project.

Fossil fuels will not last forever, and it is certainly pivotal to continue investing in alternative energy sources. The oil sands of Canada will not solve the energy crisis, but they can act as an important stopgap while we continue the search for valid alternatives to coal and petroleum. It might not be pretty, but it’s time to bite the bullet and start drilling.

Published by Alex Petros

Alex Petros is a staff writer for The Politic from Lexington, Kentucky. Contact him at alexander.petros@yale.edu.

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