In response to a question about the Keystone XL pipeline back in January, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters: “[I]t is a fallacy to suggest that the president should sign into law something when there isn’t even an alternate route identified in Nebraska …” Carney also said the then-delay in reviewing the project was “a result of concerns in Nebraska about the route … and how it would affect the aquifer there.”

That was then. Now it appears the White House statements were really excuses, not concerns.

Indeed, last year the State Department’s exhaustive Keystone XL environmental review concluded that the project would be the safest pipeline ever built in the United States. The department also determined that the project’s proposed safety mechanisms and procedures would protect the Ogallala Aquifer.

Unfortunately, concerns in Nebraska handed the administration an excuse for more delay. Pipeline builder TransCanada responded by working on a relatively small detour to avoid Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills region, which was unveiled this week:

This followed the Nebraska legislature’s approval of a bill to allow the state to move forward with a new Keystone XL route, on a 44-5 vote that was pretty much a slam dunk. Gov. Dave Heineman, who had voiced concerns about the original route, promptly signed the measure into law. This welcome news means the last major objection to Keystone XL has been resolved. Consider:

  • Americans support construction of the Keystone XL by nearly a 2-1 margin, according to a recent Gallup poll.
  • A bipartisan, veto-proof majority in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to support construction of Keystone XL, the fifth time the House has backed the project. Last month, 56 U.S. senators voted in favor of building the Keystone XL.
  • More than 80 percent of Americans believe U.S. policies should support the use of oil from Canada’s oil sands.
  • A University of Texas poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support more energy production.
  • According to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, pipelines are the “safest and most-effective” way of transporting oil and natural gas.
  • With unemployment still above 8 percent nationwide, the Keystone XL not only would create thousands of new jobs but also would help preserve jobs at U.S. refineries and production sites.
  • While there are many factors that affect the price of gasoline families use to fill up their tanks, approving the Keystone XL would send a strong market signal that more supply is on the way, helping put downward pressure on the global price of crude oil, which accounts for 76 percent of the price paid at the pump. The pipeline could bring upwards of 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries, with approximately 25 percent of the pipeline’s capacity used to deliver oil from North Dakota and Montana.

Let’s recap: A majority in both houses of Congress supports the Keystone XL. The Nebraska legislature supports the Keystone XL. The governor of Nebraska supports the Keystone XL. The American people support the Keystone XL.

With this pipeline we can have a healthy environment and a growing economy. We can strengthen our important energy relationship with Canada and help make our energy future more secure. The environmental impacts of building the Keystone XL will be minimal, while the benefits – in terms of jobs, economic growth, and energy security – will be enormous.

Politicians are known as masters at creating excuses, but when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, there are simply no excuses left for keeping it on hold.