Numerous times in the last few years, scientists have concluded that the Keystone XL project was not creating environment harm, despite the claims of environmentalists.  In the affected area, there are already 20,000 miles of pipeline so adding a few hundred more is not putting the ecology in peril.

Yet the president has consistently blocked approval, choosing environmentalists over union members. Why, since both vote Democrat? The president has long been convinced that if he can penalize existing companies, and subsidize the kind he prefers, the new ones will win. Blocking Keystone XL and demanding new regulations from the EPA has been part of that effort.

But the politics is only important in light of how it impacts science. When the Bush administration ignored and suppressed science is was a big deal, but in this decade, with spying and punitive action by the IRS for anyone who disagrees, criticism of anti-science beliefs is muted. 

Weirdly, Republicans in Congress are standing up for scientists when scientists will not, just the opposite of what happened during the Bush years.

The 400 miles of Keystone pipeline is really hard to spot in the other 20,000 miles of pipeline already there, even if we zoom in to just one spot. Credit: PennWell MAPSearch 

Yesterday, The House of Representatives passed legislation 238-173 that would eliminate the need for pipelines to Canada and Mexico to get presidential approval. Democrats tried to torpedo it with an amendment saying projects in progress (so, Keystone XL) would not count, but that was rejected.

Will this work? Absolutely not. This is attached as part of a whole package to boost domestic energy production, so unless it gets piggybacked specifically onto subsidies for a solar panel company that a wealthy donor is invested in, Democrats in the Senate are never going to let it happen, no matter how many scientists say otherwise.