But Kerrey also told the Omaha newspaper that he had not thoroughly reviewed the pros and cons of tapping Canada’s oil sands. “It may be that that genie’s out of the bottle already,” he said, “and if you’re down to a choice of summarily shipping it West and having it end up being sent to China or shipping it south and used by the United States, it’s probably difficult to oppose it at this point. But I haven’t reached an absolute decision on it.”
“Bob has taken the position that if they’re going to build it, it is better to send [the Canadian oil] to the United States than to China,” his campaign manager, Paul Johnson, said in an interview. “If the appropriate authorities approve it, that’s fine with him.”
On the national stage, the politics of the pipeline have little to do with the Ogallala Aquifer or even eminent domain. It has everything to do with promises of jobs and a secure supply of crude oil.
Romney has said that he will approve the Keystone XL his first day in office. “Day One, President Romney immediately approves the Keystone pipeline, creating thousands of jobs that Obama blocked,” says the narrator in one of the candidate’s ads.
In April, Romney told state Republican Party leaders at a retreat in Arizona, “I will build that pipeline if I have to do it myself.”
Obama has embraced the southern portion that would run from Cushing, a major storage terminal and pipeline hub that is a bottleneck for oil moving south from Canada and North Dakota. And the language Obama used when he rejected TransCanada’s application in January suggested he was open to a revised proposal for the northern leg.
At that time, Obama was being pressed by congressional Republicans who set a Feb. 21 deadline for the pipeline’s approval as part of a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, an effort to wrangle a permit from the administration.
“This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” the president said.
Eventual approval might anger Obama’s supporters in the environmental movement, and some major donors have threatened to hold back contributions. But openness to the pipeline falls in line with public opinion. About six in 10 Americans said the government should approve the pipeline while fewer than two in 10 oppose it, according to a Washington Post poll. Even among Democrats, 48 percent say it should be built; while 26 percent say it should not be built.
One reason for the support: 83 percent of those polled said the pipeline, if built, would “create a significant number of jobs” while far fewer, only 34 percent, said it would “significantly damage the environment.”