Debate over Keystone more 'ideological' than practical

As the US State Department holds its final public hearing today on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, one observer notes that the debate between the pipeline's supporters and detractors is being framed in more ideological terms than in a manner that actually weighs the pros and cons of the project:

"Keystone has now become emblematic of the great divide that's opened up in the United States between the left and the right; the Keystone debate defines the polarized political climate in Washington," says Jon Entine, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, quoted today on cbc.ca:

"People are looking for ways to symbolize their political beliefs. The debate over the pipeline has taken on the most visible signs of the divide, so Keystone is never going to be debated on its merits."

The left is exaggerating the environmental dangers posed by the pipeline, Entine says, while the right is exaggerating the jobs it will create.

The point is important, as the CBC points out, because President Obama has to decide whether to side with his liberal base who have "threatened to stay home in November 2012 if he fails to block Keystone XL" or  "those who insist the pipeline will create jobs as the U.S. struggles to recover from a devastating recession."

A decision on the project is expected by the end of the year.