The Canadian company seeking to build the massive Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline through the U.S. reapplied for a permit on Friday, pushing the politically sensitive issue back onto President Obama’s plate six months before the election.
The only reason Obama is standing in the way of the pipeline is to please his greenie base, but it’s likely not helping him at all with union voters in heavily-unionized Illinois, where part of the pipeline would run. It’s an open question whether the pipeline issue will cause enough union voters to switch from Obama to Romney to make a difference, though.
The State Department last year tried to put off a decision about TransCanada’s first application until after the election, arguing it needed more time to study the issue. That move delighted the president’s environmental allies who fear a future catastrophe, but angered many of his labor union supporters, who say the pipeline will produce jobs.
The pipeline also runs through swing-state Missouri, where Romney could make big gains talking about the jobs it would bring to the state.
Expect the Romney campaign — if they have any brains at all — to use this to hammer Obama repeatedly, both from the jobs angle and from the gas prices angle.