The battle over the Keystone pipeline has become one of the foremost issues in Washington today.
That's the problem.
The great fallacy of the Keystone pipeline is that whether it gets built or not is much less important than craven politicians in Washington would have you believe.
For six years, TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP) has sought approval to build the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,179-mile project would bring crude oil from the tar sands of Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Both Republicans and Democrats have turned up the rhetoric on the Keystone pipeline mainly to serve selfish political interests.
"The political fight about Keystone is vastly greater than the economic, environmental, or energy impact of the pipeline itself," Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard, told The New York Times. "It doesn't make a big difference in energy prices, employment, or climate change either way."
Keystone XL Pipeline Fight: What's Wrong with Washington
And this battle has dragged on for six years. All the time wasted debating the Keystone XL pipeline could have been devoted to dealing with some of America's more pressing problems. You know, stuff like tax reform, immigration, trade reform, the $18 trillion national debt, maybe some help for the struggling middle class.
In fact, the fight over the Keystone pipeline is a perfect example of what's wrong with Washington. Instead of a government that solves problems we have long, bitter partisan battles over the trivial.
A bill approving construction of the pipeline passed the House of Representatives Jan. 9. Now the Senate is working on its version. The bill passed a procedural vote Monday. But Senate Democrats are intent on adding multiple amendments, which will results in hours of floor debate.
And President Barack Obama's threat of a veto may make matters worse. The House could easily override a veto, but the Senate is four votes shy. A GOP crusade to override a veto could go on for weeks – or even months.
More wasted time.
To see how low our elected representatives have sunk, we're going to look at the all the claims and counter-claims they're making about the Keystone pipeline.