In our opinion: The Keystone XL pipeline is a political distraction

The Keystone XL pipeline is less important than politicians say.

Few issues have become more politicized than the Keystone XL pipeline project. When things become politicized, facts tend to be discounted, and the facts show that the pipeline project is simply not as important as either side has maintained.

The United States does face difficult questions about the economy, energy independence, environment, air quality and the need to transition to cleaner fuel sources. Those issues have little to do with the pipeline, however, and will only be solved through innovation, cooperation and negotiation.

Indeed, the pipeline is little more than a sideshow to that process.

President Trump last week gave final approval to the Keystone XL project after the State Department issued a permit to the company behind it, TransCanada Corp. According to a Wall Street Journal report, he then seemed genuinely surprised when the CEO of that company said, at a media event announcing the permit, that some government hurdles still remain.

In fact, this issue can’t be resolved by White House decree. Few can.

Nebraska is where the pipeline, originating in Canada, will connect with an already…

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