Pipeline delay gives boost to Obama’s political base
The latest delay to a final decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline will reinforce a White House strategy to energize President Barack Obama’s liberal-leaning base before fall elections in which Democrats risk losing control of the U.S. Senate.
Environmentalists, worried about the project’s effect on climate change, have put enormous pressure on the president to reject the pipeline from Canada’s oil sands, staging demonstrations outside the White House and protests in states where he travels.
A decision to approve it now could have prompted that vocal group, which was instrumental in electing Obama in 2008 and 2012, to sit out the November 4 congressional elections.
The State Department’s announcement on Friday that it would give government agencies more time to study the project was seen by strategists from both parties as a move to prevent that and boost Obama in the eyes of his supporters. Support for the president, or lack of it, is generally reflected in mid-term voter turnout.