A number of environmental groups asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to remove herself from the decision process in whether or not the TransCanada oil-sands pipeline ought to be approved. This request came after remarks made last month when Clinton indicated that the Department of State was inclined to approve the project. The environmental groups claim that Hillary is too biased in support for the pipeline to objectively evaluate its merits:
This decision will test the administration’s commitments to move America off of oil and combat global warming and should not be made by an official who admits to being inclined to approve it before analysis is completed. Therefore , we respectfully urge you to recuse yourself from this important decision.
I’m *confident* that this same letter would have been sent if Clinton had expressed the sentiment that she was not inclined to approve the pipeline. This seems like nothing more than a Hail Mary media attempt to remind her that a lot of people do not support the pipeline. The State Department has been looking at this issue and accepting comments for almost two years, so it seems pretty reasonable that at this point she would have a good idea one way or the other on whether or not it will be approved.
This reminds me of the groups who asked Alan Simpson to be removed from the deficit commission after his comments on Social Security because after having referred to the program as a sacred cow with many teats, it was clear that he didn’t like it as much as everyone else. Yet bias works both ways, and these groups don’t see any problem with the existence of individuals on the deficit commission who would defend Social Security to their deaths.
Back to the pipeline. Stepping away from the liberal environmentalists, the unions are actively campaigning to support the building of the pipeline. This isn’t surprising as building the pipeline will create jobs or expand opportunities for already unionized businesses. But it does highlight the idea that unions might be a major force against taxing carbon in the future. They supported Waxman-Markley under the guise of saving the planet, but when push comes to shove it seems unlikely that they’d support any taxes that actually significantly limited the ability of U.S. workers to consume cheap energy, which is why they focus on green-job subsidies.