We have to admire President Obama for sticking to his guns, even when he is both anti-science and wrong. He is positively George Bush-ian in his determination to defy his own party and the majority of the public, we really haven't seen this sort of heel-dragging since progressives made human embryonic stem cell research a political football. Like Obama, Bush defied science and the majority of his party to cater to the fringe whose views he shared. And so even though he doubled funding for the NIH and increased NASA's budget after the gutting during the Clinton years and was the first president to fund hESC technology - NIH Director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein was thrilled he found a way to fund it at all given the restrictions of the bipartisan Dickey-Wicker law signed by President Clinton - Bush was saddled with the label 'anti-science' for taking a moral stand.
Among the objective public, President Obama runs the same risk; sure, he can promise $100 million for brain mapping, which was a nice jolt of dopamine for 'Democrats love science' people in science media who are never going to vote for a Republican anyway, but it isn't going to do much for science or even America. What would actually do something to help America is not blocking science and the people in his own party, his union supporters and the scientists who have spent years analyzing the project, and found no issue with Keystone XL.
U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester support Keystone XL. So do Representatives Ruben Hinojosa, Sheila Jackson Lee, Gene Green, Charles A. Gonzalez, Henry Cuellar and Al Green. What do they all share in common? They are Democrats who actually live in the area where Keystone would run and wish the president would learn both science and economics. They see the reality that the administration glosses over in its rosy presentation of job claims - unemployment is still really, really bad out there and 'cash for clunkers' and subsidies for solar power and wind energy companies do nothing at all to solve that. Real jobs do, not government subsidized stuff that gets called an 'investment'.
Credit: European Pressphoto Agency. Link: New York Times
Keystone XL is a whole lot of high-paying union jobs, not being waiters for foreign tourists like President Obama recommended Americans do after the first time he torpedoed Keystone XL. When it isn't directly reducing fuel costs, it keeps money in North America and gets it from China - which is a lot more economically sound than letting them buy all our debt. It also keeps that money out of the hands of dictatorships. It keeps North America, the most environmentally responsible oil-producing region in the world, in charge of finding environmentally-friendly ways to help poor people reduce their cost of living and need less government hand-outs.
We build better, safer pipelines than anyone, even while activists who supposedly care about the environment cheer over an an ExxonMobil pipeline leak in Arkansas and hype a few thousand barrels into an environmental holocaust. The average leak is under 3 barrels before it is fixed, lowest in the world, and that is why the science findings regarding environmental safety were made in multiple government reports by government scientists, even when they were implicitly told ('needs more study') to keep trying until they came up with a result activists wanted. As noted in the New York Times, environmental groups are more interested in creating an 'investment cloud' over the oil sands than they are in safety or even just blocking this pipeline, so facts and data don't enter the equation.
The upside is huge. The only downside is fabricated from whole cloth by activists who never do any science and never will, they exist to promote fear and doubt and make money doing it.