Last week the State Department took a positive step on the long road to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring oil supplies from Canada into the U.S. Construction of the pipeline seems like a no-brainer. We get access to reliable energy supplies from our neighbor and ally to the north—and, as an added benefit, construction of the pipeline will create 20,000 jobs and add billions to our economy.

The pipeline, however, has its detractors, who have “made Keystone into a cause celebre,” as Robert Samuelson puts it in today’s Washington Post.

He goes on:

Actually, the reality is more complex. If Obama rejects the pipeline, he would — perversely — increase greenhouse gas emissions. Canada has made clear that it will proceed with oil sands development regardless of the American decision. If the United States doesn’t want the oil, China and other Asian countries do. Pipelines would be built to the West Coast. Transporting the oil by tanker to Asia would almost certainly create more emissions than moving it by pipeline to closer U.S. markets.

Samuelson highlights the stark choice: “Do we say yes to oil sands? Or do we increase our exposure to unstable world oil markets?”

It’s past time for approval of this project, which has been awaiting the government’s sign-off since 2009.  Manufacturers—and everyone who depends on affordable, secure energy is waiting for the administration to move forward.