The Keystone XL Controversy Is Just Stupid

Political symbolism makes a mundane issue hotbutton
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2014 4:48 PM CDT
The Keystone XL Controversy Is Just Stupid
Activists protest the Keystone XL pipeline during a visit by President Barack Obama in Los Angeles, May 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A bipartisan energy bill is expected to go down in flames in the Senate today, thanks to yet another confrontation over the Keystone XL pipeline, the AP reports. Which probably annoys Claire Casey at the Daily Beast. "No issue better captures the dysfunction of Washington than the trumped up debate over the Keystone XL pipeline," she writes today. There are loads of important environmental issues our leaders need to grapple with, "but Keystone XL isn't one of them."

The Keystone debate is entirely about symbolism. One top anti-Keystone activist even admitted as much last year, saying, "The goal is as much about organizing young people around a thing. But you have to have a thing." In reality, the pipeline will have no meaningful impact on US emissions—and the debate is drawing oxygen away from policies that might. The pipeline's supporters are exaggerating its benefits, too; it's hardly going to make the US energy-independent. In the end, Keystone has become a symbol not of climate change, but of "politics winning out over real leadership and facing the tough decisions over our energy and climate future." Click for Casey's full column. (More TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline stories.)

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