ANOTHER day, another pointless protest along the route of the Keystone XL pipeline's southern leg. Meantime, Americans remain supportive of the more controversial northern leg.
Protesters in Oklahoma (but not necessarily from Oklahoma) this week continued their childish antics of fastening themselves to construction equipment, getting arrested for it and — no doubt — tweeting about their heroics. Monday's protest came on the final day of the U.S. State Department's formal comment period for the project.
Also this week, the Environmental Protection Agency weighed in with the dog-bites-man news that it has major concerns about Keystone's link between Cushing and Canada's vast oil sands reserves. And a survey was released showing that nearly 75 percent of Americans support the project. This exceeds the 68 percent support registered in Canada.
While the Obama administration continues to dawdle on the northern leg, the route from Cushing to the Gulf Coast has the blessing of Barack Obama himself. He made a campaign stop near Cushing last year to announce his approval of the project. Yet the protesters keep showing up in southern Oklahoma to take a stand.
This week marked the fifth such effort. One protester said he came from Ames, Iowa, to defend the Red River. Really? Defend it from what? A Texas invasion?
The remark illustrates the mindlessness of this effort. Irrelevant comparisons to a pipeline break in Arkansas are about the only thing the protesters have going for them. We suggest that the Iowan head home and help defend Mississippi River towns from an extant flooding threat.
That would be productive and heroic.
If at first ...
Persistence can be a virtue, especially for those serving in the Legislature. Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, is proving that with legislation to strengthen oversight of school volunteers. House Bill 2228, the “Protect Against Pedophiles Act,” has now passed both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the state Senate. Under the bill, schools could have the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation conduct a criminal background check of all adult school volunteers. The district or the volunteer would pay for the review. Dorman authored a similar measure in 2012 that easily passed the House (where only three lawmakers opposed it), but was then killed in the Senate on a 27-13 vote. HB 2228 must still clear several more legislative hurdles, but this appears to be a good idea that is sadly necessary to protect children. Dorman is to be commended for continuing to work on this issue.
Maybe next year (then again ...)
Oklahoma House leadership clearly wants nothing to do with banning texting while driving. This week the House tabled a ban that came in an amendment to a bill dealing with penalties for reckless driving. Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, originally introduced a texting ban bill that passed through a House committee but wasn't heard on the floor. He also tried unsuccessfully to add the ban as an amendment to another bill. On Tuesday, three tries to get anti-texting language added to legislation were rejected. One would have limited the ban to places like school zones and work zones, and even that got shot down. Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is among those opposed to banning driving and texting, and so Oklahoma remains one of just 11 states that haven't cracked down on this dangerous and omnipresent practice.
President Barack Obama claims he's for “balanced” deficit reduction that relies on the rich paying just a little more. It turns out Obama defines “rich” to include those earning less than $10,000 annually, based on an analysis of his latest budget proposal by the Tax Policy Center. The center found Americans at all income levels would face 2015 tax increases under Obama's plan — which, we must point out, still fails to balance the budget even with $1.1 trillion in tax increases over a decade. Obama's plan includes a tobacco tax increase, which would fall disproportionately on the poor. While those earning between $50,000 and $200,000 would see after-tax income decline one-tenth of 1 percent, the center estimates those earning less than $50,000 would see after-tax income decline by two and three times that amount. Who knew Obama considered a welfare recipient with a cigarette the equivalent of John Rockefeller?