If anyone had any doubts that this White House is one of the most job-killing and anti-American-energy in history, the Obama administration laid them to rest this past week.
Instead of doing something constructive to address our nation’s high unemployment, under-employment and sour economy, the President rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would have created thousands of American jobs, lowered our energy costs and decreased our reliance on oil from overseas sources.
As outlined by TransCanada Corp., Keystone would stretch 1,711 miles and serve as a vital link to bring tar sands oil from Western Canada to U.S refineries along the Gulf Coast. It is shovel-ready, would be built with $7 billion in private-sector money and create up to 20,000 immediate jobs and 500,000 indirect jobs in the U.S. as a result of the economic multiplier effect.
These jobs figures, which come from AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers, underscore why so many labor unions support Keystone. They view the pipeline as a vital lifeline that will provide jobs to desperate working men and women.
Unfortunately, the President sees things differently. In his view, politics trumps sound policy. He denied the permit to build Keystone to appease his political base which claims the pipeline would damage aquifers and wildlife habits in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The problem is, evidence to support such claims is lacking. Oil pipelines have proven over the years to be the safest method of transporting oil. The Keystone pipeline, which has been designed with impressive safeguards, would likely be even safer. Furthermore, the states Keystone would pass through are already crisscrossed by a vast network of oil pipelines.
Doesn’t matter. The President would rather delay a final decision and kick this can down the road until after this year’s presidential election – much as he has done with every issue that requires real leadership – than risk offending the environmental lobby.
In doing so, the President says he has not had enough time to fully review Keystone. The White House says the President isn’t necessarily opposed to Keystone, but wants more time and is open to an alternative route.
All this presupposes the jobs will still be there by the time this Administration makes a decision. But the President’s presumption could cost Utahns and other Americans dearly. While the White House dawdles, rare rumblings of discontent can be heard from our typically reliable and friendly northern neighbor.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper characterized the President’s decision as a wake-up call that should have energy suppliers in his country looking to other markets, notably Asia, rather than being “held hostage” by bad political decisions made in the U.S. He told the White House that Canada will now look to other nations to diversify its oil exports. Translation: the Keystone jobs could be gone for good – whenever and whatever the President decides.
Paying back political allies at the expense of hard-working Americans is unacceptable in the best of economic times; it is all the more egregious when energy costs are high and so many in Utah and across the country are struggling to find work, pay their bills and support their families. Few understand this issue as well as we do in Utah, since Washington has shut off access to much of our state’s critical energy resources. Utahns and other Americans deserve better.
Unfortunately, this dilly-dallying on Keystone represents yet another failure of leadership on the part of this White House. Americans expect more from their commander-in-chief. Instead of a president who passes the buck, they want a leader who embodies the slogan on the sign that once graced former President Harry S. Truman’s desk: “The buck stops here.”