Keystone delay about politics:Shell's ex-president

Political battle over Keystone: Pro

The latest delay in the Keystone XL pipeline is all about politics, and not about the reality of pipelines, which are the less risky option when it comes to transporting oil, said John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil.

"They have really minimized the risks associated with moving what is a very difficult product to move," Hofmeister told CNBC.

The Obama administration announced on Friday that it is extending the government comment period on the controversial pipeline, which will likely postpone President Barack Obama's final decision on the project.

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Pipe is stacked at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline in Cushing, Oklahoma.
Getty Images

The delay is just the latest twist in the ongoing battle over the pipeline, which would transport oil across the Canadian border to refineries in Texas.

Hofmeister, now founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, says the Obama administration is stuck in the middle of the political battle and is "darned if they do, darned if they don't."

Opponents argue the pipeline will damage the environment, but supporters say it is a crucial part of the North American oil boom.

Read More Why Obama's Keystone opposition reeks of politics

Simply put, "oil is good for us. The economy depends upon oil," Hofmeister said.

Pipelines also can reduce the safety hazards that come from shipping crude by barge or by rail, he added. Steel rails are particularly vulnerable during seasonal changes, expanding in the summer and contracting in the winter.

Read MoreWhat Happens if the Keystone XL Pipeline Isn't Built?

Although pipelines will wear out and need to be replaced as they age, "by in large, having sat in the seat I sat in, I'd go with pipelines every opportunity I could because it's more efficient, more effective and lower risk in a business that is full of risk."

-Reuters contributed to this report

-By CNBC's Michelle Fox