President Obama is running out of reasons for not making a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.
The State Department's latest report found no “significant” impact on climate change, which had been the president's publicly stated reservation about the project.
It also noted that Canadian officials are determined to extract the oil and ship it somewhere for refining — no matter what. If not the U.S. Gulf Coast, then maybe China.
And in the interim? The tar-sands oil is being moved by truck, train and barge, all of which present their own environmental and safety risks.
This pipeline proposal has been a contentious and thorny problem for the White House from the start, when builder TransCanada wanted to run it through an environmentally sensitive area of the Nebraska Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer. At the urging of many Nebraskans, including this newspaper, TransCanada shifted the route.
Federal approval, required because the pipeline would cross an international border, should be a given. The United States would have a supply of energy from a friendly neighbor, and studies suggest Nebraska could see millions of dollars in new tax revenues and other economic benefits. Rep. Lee Terry and Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer all support its construction.
The president, meanwhile, is caught between two sets of his own supporters — unions wanting jobs, and environmentalists arguing that tar-sands oil comes at too high an environmental price.
After 5½ years, there's almost no one left in this discussion who hasn't made up his mind. Except the president. And it's time.