After reading this article on the Keystone XL pipeline, I need to suggest a correction.
The people opposing the pipeline are not NIMBYs, or "Not in My Backyard"s. They do not, for example, resemble the late Senator Edward Kennedy in his reaction to the Cape Wind project, which he thought would ruin the lovely ocean views from his home. Instead, they are an entirely different creature: a Not In Any Backyard (NIAB).
I first noticed this curious species of human when studying ANWR. Oil companies wanted to drill in the deepest reaches of the arctic, where few ever come, and where typical temperatures are in the negative thirties. Essentially nobody visits ANWR who is not generously paid to be there, almost invariably by an oil company. The overwhelming majority of locals will benefit from drilling, so it is no shock that they overwhelmingly support it. So why should people living thousands of miles away, who will never even visit, have any control over the question?
Keystone XL is the same story. Few of the affluent urbanites arguing against Keystone XL have seen where it will be, or have the slightest idea of what the people there want. As it happens, most of them want the jobs that will come from building and operating the pipeline.
The Keystone XL pipeline will run through areas of the American Midwest virtually none of the pipeline opponents will ever visit, see or have the slightest interest in. Whatever environmental problems might come up in those areas, they will never personally encounter them.
I believe the solution to a question like Keystone XL is simple: Do the local representatives want it? If they do, it should be built. If they don't, it should not be. When election time comes, the people can vote out their representatives if they felt they had poor judgement. Simple.
As an example of how this works, ANWR would be pumping oil right now under those conditions. Those who actually live in the Arctic are overwhelmingly oil company workers and people who benefit from the sale of drilling rights. So naturally, the consensus on the ground is for drilling to go ahead.
On the other hand, Californians have beautiful beaches people actually visit to protect. They have enacted strict rules against drilling and pretty much anything else. If Calfornia wants to fix its budget by reopening the question, that should be the decision of the people and their representatives.
In the case of Keystone XL, local governments agree that it's a great idea – it will bring jobs to the area and oil to US refineries. This is a huge win for our economy and to reduce dependence on oil produced by nations not friendly to us.
Either way, it is not a federal issue. Leave it to the states and the people directly involved.
And the Not in Any Backyards? They should just go home.