The White House in its Friday-of-a-holiday-weekend news dump cited an ongoing legal dispute in Nebraska over approval for the Keystone route through the state as the reason for the latest in years of delays.
But there is no reason that dispute should change the federal government's decision on whether building the pipeline is in the national interest.
President Obama's own State Department has now twice concluded that the pipeline would cause no net harm to the environment. And State is involved only because the pipeline crosses the Canadian border, which does not, in fact, extend into Nebraska. Indeed, it seems fairly clear that on the merits, the administration would likely have approved the pipeline months if not years ago.
Read More U.S. extends Keystone XL comment period, delaying final decision
But there are at least 100 million reasons why the president has held up the decision.
Those reasons live in the bank account of hedge fund manager Tom Steyer who has pledged to spend $100 million helping Democrats avoid disaster in a 2014 midterm election where their Senate majority is in serious jeopardy. Steyer's No. 1 issue? Stopping the Keystone pipeline.
The San Francisco money manager on Friday declared the latest delay "rotten eggs" for pipeline builder TransCanada and "good news on Good Friday for those who oppose Keystone as not being in our nation's best interest."
The delay, however, was not at all good news for vulnerable red state Democrats, including Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and others.
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Landrieu has the most to lose given that she is a strong proponent of the pipeline, which would deliver crude product from Alberta's oil sands to the Gulf Coast for refining and sale on the global market.
And the Louisiana senator, who already trails Republican Bill Cassidy in early polls, has cited her influence in Washington as a key reason for voters to keep her on the job. She used her first ad of the campaign to do that very thing (immediately drawing rebukes from Republicans for recreating scenes in the Senate).
But now Landrieu, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has demonstrated a total inability to actually influence the administration on a key decision that would impact the economy in her state.
Landrieu on Friday blasted the administration's decision as "irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable." And some make the case that Keystone gives her an opportunity to create distance between herself and an unpopular president.
That may be true but is likely swamped by the fact that Landrieu's key selling point—I can deliver for Louisiana!—is now fundamentally undermined.
If Landrieu goes down in November, as she very well may, she can probably thank the Obama White House for her defeat.