PennEast Pipeline Beats New Jersey at SCOTUS

Legal eagles might find today's Supreme Court decision, in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey, compelling, contending as it does with a tension between the exercise of eminent domain on the one hand and a state's sovereign immunity as guaranteed by the 11th amendment on the other. For a layman like myself, one smart enough not to have attended law school, the discussion makes my eyes glaze over. However, the case might have some important ramifications in the ongoing dispute between the environmentalist movement and the oil and gas industry in the months and years ahead, and we would do well to be aware of it.

PennEast Pipeline Company LLC, a joint venture of energy producers including Enbridge Inc., South Jersey Industries Inc, and New Jersey Resources Corp, has been constructing a 116-mile pipeline that would transport as much as one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale and serve customers in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

After having secured the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval, the company began acquiring the land along the pipeline's planned route, making use, where necessary, of a provision in the U.S. Natural Gas Act which allow resource companies to utilize federal eminent domain authority. However, some of that land belonged to the state, and the administration of Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, refused to hand it over, contending that only privately owned land can be acquired in this way.

When PennEast took the state to court, the Murphy administration argued that the 11th amendment-guaranteed sovereign immunity protected it from being sued by a private entity. The majority, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts (joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Alito, and Kavanaugh), disagreed, accepting PennEast's defense that their use of eminent domain flowed directly from the federal government.

Roberts argued that the right of the federal government to use eminent domain for the construction of essential infrastructure was well established, that there was nothing stopping it from delegating that power to a private company, and that "[a]lthough nonconsenting States are generally immune from suit, they surrendered their immunity from the exercise of the federal eminent domain power when they ratified the Constitution."

This doesn't mean that the pipeline will definitely be completed. As Greg Stohr points out in Bloomberg, PennEast "still must secure state-level permits, something that may prove difficult in [liberal] New Jersey." But this case is still has the potential to be significant, limiting as it does the ability of left-wing activists to kill major infrastructure projects they couldn't stop at the federal level simply by pumping money into local politics.

Will this precedent affect, for instance, Enbridge's other big pipeline project, which has seen Michigan holding all of eastern Canada hostage just to make a point? It's a hopeful sign.

Russian Pipelines, Da, American Pipelines, Nyet

Let me get this straight. Recently, Russian hackers shutdown North America's largest pipeline for days, massively disrupting the supply chain on the eastern seaboard and leading to shortages and price spikes. Eventually Colonial, Inc, the line's owner, paid a $5 million ransom to get it up and running again, a decision about which the Biden administration officially had no opinion. Of course, anyone with half a brain knows that's a lie, that they must have been working both sides, pushing Colonial to towards a course of action (presumably the one they took) on the one hand, and engaging their Russian counterparts about it on the other.

Well, the cyberterrorists got what they asked for, and now the Putin regime have gotten their dearest wish as well: the Biden Administration will allow construction of the Nord 2 pipeline project which will enable Russia to satisfy Germany's appetite for oil and gas (which has become more voracious since Germany embarked on its foolhardy Energiewende policy) without passing through Ukraine, a country where anti-Russian sentiment is rife. Moreover, Biden is waiving existing sanctions on the company building the pipeline and its president, Putin ally and former Stasi officer Matthias Warnig, to get the project done.

This is surprising, as Team Biden have been very open about their opposition to Nord Stream 2, fearing it would shift the balance of power in the region by getting Germany addicted to cheap Russian energy, boosting Russia's economy, and further subordinating the smaller countries in the region to the larger. Just this February, Jen Psaki was uncompromising when she articulated the administration's view on the matter:

Our position on Nord Stream 2 has been very clear, and it remains unchanged. President Biden has made clear that Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal. It’s a bad deal because it divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and Central Europe to... Russian manipulation, and because it goes against Europe’s own stated energy and security goals.

And then suddenly Bidenettes backed down. Something strange is going on here. Foreign policy analyst Rebeccah Heinrichs tweeted sarcastically, "How absolutely wild is it that Russians attacked a US pipeline while gas prices were already high and like two days after the US company pays the relatively small ransom Biden lifts sanctions on Nord Stream 2." It's definitely suspicious.

Then again, the two events might be unrelated. What is indisputable, however, is that this move looks  ridiculous in light of Biden's anti-pipeline domestic policy. As Dan Foster put it, "Killing energy jobs in Oklahoma and creating them in St. Petersburg is so comically inept and villainous you could never even try it without the entire press in your back pocket."

It isn't hyperbole to say Donald Trump (alleged Putin patsy, who was actually tougher on Russia than any president since the fall of the Berlin Wall) would have been impeached for this. After all, he was impeached for less.

Biden Administration: 'Actually, Pipelines are Good'

I quoted this the other day, but Kyle Smith's line about how anti-pipeline Joe Biden has been bears repeating. For candidate Biden, "Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap." And he did, in fact, kill Keystone on Day 1 as promised.

That's a good fact to remember, since during the Colonial pipeline fiasco at least three officials in the Biden administration have admitted that pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport fuel. H/T to Breitbart for collecting the quotes:

First, "Climate Czar" John Kerry:

Kerry, when asked by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) if it is “true, the pipelines are more carbon-delivery efficient than trains or trucks or other forms of delivery?” Kerry immediately responded and said, “Yeah, that is true.”

Next, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm:

Granholm... admitted Tuesday, “pipe is the best way to go” when transporting fuel, during a press briefing regarding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

And finally, Transportation Secretary and former McKinsey Globalist... er, sorry, Small Town Mayor/Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Asked whether he agrees with Secretary Granholm's comments that "pipelines are still the best way to move oil,”

Buttigieg responded by saying, “certainly.” He then continued, especially “when you’re talking about the efficiency of moving petroleum products.” “That’s why we have pipelines,” he added after.

Maybe someone should clue in the old man upstairs, after he wakes up from his nap.

The Colonial Pipeline Experiment

Here's some good news -- after several days offline, due to a ransomware attack by Russian hackers, Colonial Pipeline is back up and running as of Wednesday evening. And sooner then expected -- the initial estimates suggested that it might not be able to be restarted until this weekend. This has led to some questions about whether Colonial (perhaps with some encouragement from the Feds) simply paid the hackers' ransom demand. CNN says no, they just beat the hackers with an assist from the FBI, but Bloomberg is reporting that that's exactly what they did:

Colonial Pipeline Co. paid nearly $5 million to Eastern European hackers on Friday... The company paid the hefty ransom in untraceable cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware that Colonial made the payment.

Either way, this is an embarrassment for the Biden Administration, but allowing (maybe encouraging) an American company to pay a ransom to Russian cyber terrorists would be hard to come back from. Still, Joe must not have liked the prospect of gas lines -- that totem of Carter-era malaise and harbinger of the Reagan revolution -- lasting more than a few days.

Even so, this crisis won't be ending immediately. Colonial has said, "it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal," meaning that souring prices, panic buying, and even rationing are probably going to be with us in the affected states for at least a week.

On the bright side, this is about as close as we can get to a controlled experiment. It would be wildly irresponsible to shut down a pipeline just to spite our obnoxious anti-pipeline protestors and the limousine liberals who fund them. But to see those same liberals sitting in their limousines (or SUVs more likely) in northern Virginia waiting their turn to fill their tanks (and maybe a few plastic bags) with gas? Priceless. Here's hoping the Canadians are watching how this is playing out.

Perhaps the headache will even cause Biden to rethink a few of his own green commitments. As Kyle Smith reminds us,

If Biden himself were not on record as being himself a fan of shutting down fuel pipelines — Keystone XL not only was a menace to our American way of life by bringing us energy, Biden thought it had to be cut off before his first afternoon nap — this brewing crisis wouldn’t be so potentially damaging to him. Biden is an ardently pro-fuel-limits guy in a moment when fuel is limited. As one of his other first acts in office — “Let’s own Trump by endangering our energy future” — he also banned new fracking leases on federal land. Maybe it would be nice to have more energy supply rather than less given what’s happened since?

Don't hold your breath.

Russian Hackers Shut Down North America's Largest Pipeline

If you live in the eastern United States and notice the price of gasoline jumping over the next few days, you can thank a group of Russian hackers who call themselves DarkSide. Though they deny that they're the culprits, ransomware with DarkSide's signature all over it was at the heart of a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline last Friday, even to the point of being coded not to attack computers which have Russian as their default language. The attack ultimately shut down the company's Texas-to-New Jersey line, the largest pipeline in North America. That pipeline delivers roughly 45 percent of the east coast's diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel.

Colonial are confident that the pipeline will be fully operational by the end of this week. "The question now,' says Bloomberg, "is whether regional inventories held in storage tanks are enough to satisfy demand while Colonial works on resuming operations." To that end, the White House declared a state of emergency on Sunday, which according to NBC,

[L]ifts regulations on drivers carrying fuel in 17 states across the South and eastern United States, as well as the District of Columbia, allowing them to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow.

Hopefully easing those restrictions will help, and oil and gas shipments -- via truck or ship -- will stave off real shortages. But it's worth noting that, even with a shut down of such short duration, Gulf Coast refineries, concerned about running out of storage capacity, are preparing to cut back production, meaning that this could have implications for the price of oil for some time to come.

In any event, this episode should serve to remind us that pipelines are central to the our everyday lives. Kirsten Gillibrand was brutally mocked recently for claiming that basically every plank in the Democratic platform is infrastructure (and could therefore be included in an infrastructure bill), but this is the very definition of infrastructure, and vital infrastructure at that.

Let's not forget it.

Gaia's Minions Won't Stop with Keystone

One theory as to why Team Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline on Day One of his presidency is that the project had garnered so much notoriety. Keystone, the reasoning goes, had become a cause célèbre for the environmentalist left, and the Biden administration had to throw them a bone by terminating it, but that doing so doesn't give us a window into how he will actually govern over the next four years. No doubt this is what leaders of the various unions who endorsed Biden are currently telling themselves.

There is an obvious flaw in this reasoning. If Biden is willing to quash a major pipeline project like Keystone (midway through construction and at the cost of damaging America's relation with our ally, Canada) simply because environmentalists have succeeded in making the pipeline infamous, what's to stop them from making other pipeline projects similarly well known and with the same object in mind?

Well, it seems as if that is exactly what they're doing. Last week, we discussed a victory for Enbridge Line 5, which moves 540,000 barrels of Canadian petroleum products per day from Wisconsin. to Sarnia, Ont. Gretchen Whitmer has declared war on Line 5, and is both trying to halt its operation, on the grounds that it is a danger to the Straits of Mackinac, and trying to stop the construction on a tunnel under those straits whose object is to make its operation safer. Michigan's department of energy has, nevertheless, granted a construction permit to build the tunnel.

Gov. Whitmer's war goes on, however, and the possibility that she'll succeed has started to make Canadians nervous. Trudeau's minister of natural resources, Seamus O'Regan (a committed environmentalist), and Ontario's Conservative Premier Doug Ford have both put out statements in support of Line 5. Conservative leader Erin O'Toole recently wrote an op-ed defending it. Why would a Liberal Minister set out to defend a pipeline alongside Conservative politicians? Because, beyond the jobs it supports, Line 5 supplies about half of the petroleum needs of Ontario and Quebec! Losing it would be a disaster for Canada, and even Trudeaupian Liberals know it.

The honorably lady "from" Minnesota.

And now another front in this war has developed. Ilhan Omar, the hard-left congressional representative from Minnesota, has appealed directly to Joe Biden to kill Enbridge Line 3, which transports those same petroleum products from Alberta to Wisconsin, crossing through the congresswoman's home state. In an open letter (of course), Omar said "I joined millions of Americans celebrating your announcement to withdraw permits for the Keystone XL pipeline." She asks Biden to do the same to Line 3, currently in the process of being replaced with a larger pipe. She continues, "Under even the best-case scenarios for climate change, we cannot afford to build more fossil fuel infrastructure.”

If Team Biden really is operating under the assumption that killing Keystone has bought them some environmentalist good will, and that they don't have to sacrifice any more pipelines or jobs on the alter of Mother Gaia, they're in for a rude awakening. Mother Gaia's minions are insatiable. And their chief weapon is publicity.

Native Americans and the Activist 'Victim' Narrative

Well it's official -- after 87 years the Washington Redskins will be retiring their name and logo. Officially the organization is undergoing what will no doubt be a costly rebranding, one that's sure to alienate much of their fan base, in atonement for the offense they've given Native Americans over many decades.

Unfortunately, no one seems to have told the Natives. As Tim Carney explains,

The most thorough poll of Native American sentiment in the past decade found that 90% of Native Americans didn’t find the team name racist. Only 9% found it offensive. This poll was commissioned by the Washington Post, which has — before and since — been lobbying the Redskins and campaigning nonstop for the team to change its name. "The survey of 504 people across every state and the District reveals that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the same result. Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations." A more recent, less scientific poll... found that still a clear majority were not offended. The most common emotion elicited among Native Americans by the team’s name? “Pride.”

Now, despite enjoying the proposed replacement names floating around Twitter (The D.C. Swamp Creatures has been my favorite), I really don't care one fig what Washington's football team is called. However, this situation has bearing upon many others we've seen in recent years. Small (but loud) groups of activists claim to speak for the vulnerable, and shame governments and corporations into throwing their financial weight around. (As Carney points out, the movers here were not Native groups but corporations, including Nike, FedEx, and Bank of America). Executives and politicians, desperate to display their woke bona fides, do whatever the activists tell them to do.

Native Americans aren't the only victims of this play, but they are among the most common. The drama up in Canada surrounding the Coastal GasLink pipeline earlier this year is a good example -- protests erupted purportedly in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who, we were told, were having their rights trampled on by the company building the pipeline. The Wet’suwet’en, however, were broadly in favor of the pipeline's construction, which was supplying them with jobs and brought the promise of development to their territory.

Activists and their friends in the media don't want us to hear that side of the story, as it undercuts the Rousseauvian depiction of indigenous people that they want haunting our imaginations. They would prefer we think of Natives exclusively as victims, continually oppressed by the descendants of George Washington and John A. Macdonald, but still in a state of mystical harmony with nature, disinterested in all worldly concerns. But this is an embarrassing caricature of natives, both historically and in the present day.

Which is not to say that they don't care about nature or the land that they've lived on for generations. This story, for instance, about the Fort McKay First Nation's decision to develop an oil sands project on their land even in this apparently unfavorable market, makes it a point to emphasize that group's concern about all such development being responsible. It mentions that they are, concurrent with this project,

in negotiations with the province to finalize a land-preservation plan for the area around Moose Lake, the last relatively undisturbed wilderness in the territory where community members can practice their treaty rights including hunting and harvesting traditional food and medicines.

But as Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan recently explained in Canada's Financial Post, natives, in both Canada and the US, often live "far from the economic opportunities that cities provide," leading to an elevated unemployment rate in indigenous communities. Resource development and extraction are among the best opportunities to combat this problem. This is something Fort McKay understands very well.

The First Nation is surrounded by eight mines and three in-situ operations, and the vast majority of its income is derived from its own business activities, including a dozen companies that service the oil industry. Those companies employed more than 1,400 people and generated $500-million in revenue in 2018.

Job numbers like that are nothing to sniff at, especially in the present economy. Back in February, Troy Young of the Wet’suwet’en Nation gave an interview about the Coastal GasLink pipeline in which he was clearly frustrated by the way the dispute was being portrayed in the media. The pipeline would provide hundreds of jobs for his people, not to mention revenue from the 10 percent ownership stake in the pipeline held by the First Nations groups living along its path. As Young put it, "typically if people are employed, drug use goes down, because people are happy when they're making money, they feel better about themselves. They feel more confident." He was also apprehensive about what it would mean if the protesters were really successful in killing the pipeline project, saying that if that happened "Nobody's ever going to invest here again."

As in the case of the Washington Redskins, activists and the media tend to use native groups as shadow puppets in their simplistic stories. These are meant to bolster a preexisting narrative, one which is more representative of the activists' interests than anyone else's. In the real world, indigenous people aren't so reflective of their caricature. So whenever you encounter loud, angry people speaking on behalf of natives, take a moment to consider whom they're really speaking for.

Big Chiefs Vie for Supremacy in B.C.

If you want to get your way out west in the 21st century, but can't win at the ballot box, becoming a public nuisance is the next best thing. That's the message coming out of this past weekend's hi-jinks in Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., and elsewhere. It's also the message of the agreement the Liberal government in Ottawa and the socialist NDP government in British Columbia have recently struck with a handful of hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

In case the pandemic and the George Floyd riots have pushed the recent history of the Wet’suwet’en out of your mind, let me quickly remind you of their situation. They are a First Nations community based in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, who found themselves at the center of a firestorm back in February. Protests erupted across Canada "in solidarity" with the Wet’suwet’en, who objected to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline across their land. Or, at least, that was the narrative pushed by Canadian media. In reality, as Mike Smyth explained in B.C's The Province at the time,

The First Nations directly impacted by the Coastal GasLink pipeline — and the thousands of Indigenous people they represent — largely support the project. All 20 First Nations along the pipeline route have signed benefit-sharing agreements with the pipeline company through their elected band councils. That includes the multiple elected councils of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. But the protesters have aligned themselves with five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the pipeline, and not the 13,000 Indigenous British Columbians represented by all the band councils that support it.

In fact, as I wrote back in February, roughly one-third of the people working on the pipeline are native, and a great many of the Wet’suwet’en people stand behind the elected chiefs who signed onto the original agreements with TC Energy. They were critical of those five hereditary chiefs who -- as Wet’suwet’en member Troy Young put it -- chose to do "everything via media and not following proper protocol." And they were grateful for the job opportunities afforded them by resource development on their land, and concerned about the consequences of killing or altering a multi-billion dollar project at such a late stage (Troy Young again: "If the project were to be halted, the loss would be probably insurmountable. Nobody's ever going to invest here again").

But the media delivered. Canadian news outlets like the CBC churned out wall-to-wall, breathless coverage of the plight of the five hereditary chiefs on the one hand (who, they continuously suggested, were really more legitimate than the elected chiefs, since democracy is a western import, although there has been a system in place for the election of chiefs for nearly 150 years) and of the occasional arrest of protesters for such minor offences as blockading major rail lines and arson). By the end of the month the federal and provincial governments felt compelled to sit down with the hereditary chiefs to hammer out a new agreement, with construction suspended while they did so.

And then the virus and the lockdowns came, sucking up all of the media oxygen for months. But while everyone was looking elsewhere, BC and Ottawa were continuing to negotiate. And then, without an announcement, a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed to by both sides in March, the details of which are only now coming out. And, from what we've seen of it, it has the potential, as Gary Mason writes in The Globe and Mail, first, "to fundamentally alter politics in this country forever," and second, "to be viewed, ultimately, as a horribly one-sided sellout by British Columbia and Ottawa."

The memorandum recognizes the hereditary chiefs over and above the elected chiefs, who weren't involved in the negotiations. This detail is remarkable, because it involves a significant shift in the locus of Indigenous power and and heightens the internal tensions among the Wet’suwet’en. But the more dramatic aspect of the agreement is that it recognizes the Wet’suwet’en as having title over its territory. As the hereditary chiefs explained in pitching the agreement to their people, “You will be the first Indigenous Nation in Canada to have recognition of your Aboriginal title over your territory by agreement.”

What that means in practice is to be worked out in negotiations over the next several months, but one key aspect of it seems to be that, at least as Mason reads that section, "the hereditary chiefs will have exclusive domain over natural-resource development" on that 22,000 square kms (13,670 square miles) of land. To get such a significant concession in a negotiation, you'd imagine that the hereditary chiefs would have to give up quite a lot. Well, you would be wrong -- at least in their words, they conceded “Absolutely nothing.” Including, as Mason emphasizes, "any promise to not continue blocking the [Coastal GasLink] pipeline from crossing their territory." He continues,

There are so many potential land mines in this agreement, it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with how it gives power to hereditary chiefs over elected chiefs and their councils. In many cases, elected chiefs represent a new generation of Indigenous leadership. The hereditary chiefs who signed this agreement appear to be able to use their new power to stop the pipeline from crossing their land.... Hereditary chiefs elsewhere are undoubtedly going to see this agreement as precedent-setting. They will insist on the same powers. And that has the potential to undermine many other royalty-sharing agreements that elected band councils have signed with resource companies.

Getting here required good bit of of dirty pool from the hereditary chiefs. According to Chris Selley,

They have stripped pro-pipeline hereditary chiefs of their titles and installed anti-pipeline replacements. They did not keep promises — echoed by provincial and federal politicians — to at least run the memorandum of understanding by the rank and file. They wouldn’t even distribute draft copies.

And, of course, it has meant ignoring the wishes of ordinary members of the Wet’suwet’en nation. That being so, why are Victoria (capital of B.C., located just 75 miles across the water from Seattle) and Ottawa moving ahead with it? As Selley puts it,

[F]or the governments involved, this wasn’t about offering the Wet’suwet’en a better future. It was about putting out a fire: [Among other things, a] group of Mohawks thousands of kilometres away in eastern Ontario had blockaded CN’s main line in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs; and the Ontario Provincial Police, armed with an injunction demanding the blockade end, refused to lift a finger. Something had to give. Somebody had to get screwed, and it was the rank-and-file Wet’suwet’en. For no good reason whatsoever, the hereditary chiefs now hold all the keys to their future. It’s an appalling and appallingly predictable result.

We shall see what the outcome of all of this is. The details of the agreement are still being negotiated, and then it must be ratified by both sides. But it isn't looking good for the legitimately elected Wet’suwet’en leaders, nor their thousands of followers who are sick of the publicity and the games and just want to work. At this point the lesson of all of this, in Selley's words, is "make friends with the Ontario Mohawks. They pretty much run the country."

Biden Vows to Kill Keystone XL if Elected

Back before he went into hiding, Joe Biden was notorious for making confusing statements which his spokesmen had to "clarify" later, while pretending that they'd been distorted by conservative media. Not that he's actually stopped doing this since the DNC began using the lockdowns as a pretense for hiding him in his basement in Delaware (a tactic which seems to be working for them at the moment, but which they can't keep up through November). While criticizing Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden told ABC News a few weeks ago, "We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse, no matter what. No matter what. We know what has to be done." Uh, sure Grandpa.

But there was nothing confusing about the statement put out by the Biden campaign (of course not delivered by the candidate himself) vowing to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline project should he be elected president next November.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit,” Biden campaign policy director Stef Feldman said in a written statement to POLITICO.

In case you've forgotten, Keystone XL is a project of the Canadian oil firm TC Energy, the object of which is to safely transport Canadian crude from Alberta down to refineries in the U.S. It is, in fact, the fourth Keystone pipeline, and when completed it will be able to transport more oil (because it is larger) more quickly (because it travels a less circuitous route) than the already operational other three. Unfortunately for TC Energy, stopping Keystone XL became a cause célèbre for the Left during Barack Obama's presidency, and so the Obama Administration slow-walked the permit process for years until officially rejecting it after six years of review. Donald Trump breathed new life into the project after his election, but it has remained in legal limbo throughout the course of his first term.

Just a few thoughts on his announcement:

  1. Part of Biden's appeal is that he's supposedly this scrappy, working class, down-to-earth, Irish Catholic guy from Scranton, Pa., son of a used car salesman, yadda yadda yadda. But here he is, during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, promising to kill steady, hardworking jobs (in two countries!) because it'll make well-connected environmentalists happy?
  2. Even Democrats are starting to acknowledge that the former Vice President isn't all there. Even if it were true that his instincts are more geared towards the working man than the wine-and-caviar set that Hillary Clinton appealed to, this kind of announcement should give you a sense of who will actually be doing the governing while President Biden retreats further into his dotage.
  3. Keystone XL is popular in Canada, so much so that the then-newly elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed environmentalist, felt compelled to object when Obama originally killed the project. Canada is our second largest trading partner, and our largest -- China -- is increasingly unpopular in the U.S., for obvious reasons, so much so that calls for our relationship with that nation to be drastically reevaluated are coming in hot and heavy. Would it really be wise for Biden -- whose foreign policy experience supposedly got him the nod as Obama's veep -- to antagonize an ally in such an environment?

Then again, former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously said that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." As his Keystone XL announcement demonstrates, his domestic and trade policy instincts are just as reliable.