U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe recently predicted the Obama administration would delay a permit for Keystone XL oil pipeline as long as it can.
In November, TransCanada Corp. postponed the starting date for the $5.4 billion pipeline into 2016. The pipeline will transport oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to storage facilities in Cushing, according to a Stillwater NewsPress report.
The southern leg of the pipeline, from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, is expected to be finished next month. Since it doesn’t pass the U.S. border, this leg didn’t need a presidential permit.
The high-capacity Cushing hub can handle the current traffic — and could handle more.
Now the oil is being transported by rail, which is a bigger safety and environmental risk than the highly regulated pipeline industry.
The National Journal recently noted that 68 percent of oil from the region now is moved by rail. Last summer, a train carrying Bakken crude exploded in Canada and killed 47 people.
Politics, not science, is holding up approval. When politics plays a role, private enterprise has to find other solutions. It’s not necessarily the best answer, but it’s necessary under the circumstances.