“With A Stroke of His Pen” – President Lincoln Transcontinental Railroad Analogy More Fitting

If you’ve been following the recent Keystone XL coverage inside the beltway, you probably couldn’t help but notice the latest sensationalist arguments being peddled by Keystone XL opponents and propped up by a few in the press.  As one outrageous claim follows another, it’s pretty clear that this opposition operation has been throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if anything sticks.  So far nothing has.

The example that most stands out over the past few weeks is, of course, this Washington Post article, which reported that 150 major Democratic donors had compared the significance of the Keystone XL decision to Abraham Lincoln’s resolve to end slavery.  As the article put it, “The missive, which was sent by the group Thursday and was obtained by The Washington Post, emphasized Obama’s respect for Lincoln and suggested the controversial pipeline–which would transport heavy crude from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast–marked a similar turning point in American history.”

While opponents no doubt felt that such a comparison would underscore the weight of the decision, the only thing that seems to have “stuck” is the sheer absurdity of their remarks. As the New York Post editorial states, “Sure, the pipeline involves an important presidential decision. But is it equivalent to ending human bondage?” Perhaps a more appropriate analogy to Keystone XL is President Lincoln’s leadership and support to build the Transcontinental Railroad. As this video describes, “On July 1, 1862, after decades of debate and disagreement on the matter, Lincoln brought the Transcontinental Railroad to life with a stroke of his pen…”

That’s not all. Earlier in the week, opponents also latched onto Sierra Club member Elaine Cooper’s claim that Vice President Joe Biden told her he opposed the pipeline.  Once again, the same Washington Post reporter had the story, this time featuring the anti-Keystone XL group, All Risk, No Reward, who created ads featuring Vice President Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry standing together with the text, “Psst, you should oppose Keystone XL too.”  But this claim also didn’t stick: Politico set the record straight, reporting that “evidence that Biden has said any such thing is incomplete — based on an account from one activist who has offered at least two versions of what the vice president told her on a rope line last week during a campaign event in South Carolina. Biden’s office, meanwhile, has declined to say definitively whether the quote was accurate.”

There’s more. Opponents also received a big blow to their campaign last week when – after weeks of spinning up stories about the devastating comments EPA had given the State Department’s review of Keystone XL a failing grade – acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe testified before the House Appropriations Committee that EPA actually had given the State Department’s review a “passing grade.”  Before this revelation, the Washington Post reporter wrote the story, “How much does EPA’s objection to Keystone XL matter? A lot.” The Guardian included in sub headline, “Momentum shifts again toward pipeline opponents in the long-running battle” With Perciasepe’s comment, that argument has been deflated.

Finally just this week, activists tried to make another mountain out of a molehill with a Reuters article that claims to have the “exclusive” on when the decision for the pipeline will be made.  Yet this “exclusive” comes from a “U.S. official” who “did not want to be named given the sensitive nature of the project.” A great rumor for sure, but how accurate is it?

As the Keystone XL decision drags on we can count on opponents to continue their antics to get ink – whether anything sticks is another story. And Oil Sands Fact Check will be on duty daily to set the record straight.

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