Wicker Part of Congressional Effort to Approve Keystone Project

Overwhelming Majority of Americans Are in Favor of Oil Pipeline

February 6, 2012

President Obama missed a big opportunity for job creation last month when he rejected the permit for the highly anticipated Keystone XL oil pipeline.  Business groups, labor unions, and members of both parties had voiced their support for the project, but pressure from a group of environmentalists had threatened to jeopardize the President’s reelection campaign.  Instead of doing what is best for the country, the President made a political move.

An overwhelming majority of Americans are in favor of Keystone’s construction, according to a new United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.  Last week, Congress proposed another way to move forward.  I am a co-sponsor of new legislation introduced in the Senate to authorize the Canadian pipeline under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which grants Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.”  Tens of thousands of jobs are the reward if we succeed.

‘All-In Approach’ to Energy

The link between job growth and a better national energy strategy is evident in the latest recommendations from the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  The Council endorsed an “all-in approach,” including the development of America’s natural resources and the construction of “pathways (pipelines, transmission and distribution) to deliver electricity and fuel.”  It encouraged acting “expeditiously” on investments that would support hundreds of thousands of jobs and addressing “permitting obstacles that could threaten the development of some energy projects, negatively impact jobs and weaken our energy infrastructure.”

The Keystone pipeline offers a prime opportunity to turn the advice from the Jobs Council into real-life progress.  The proposed 1,700-mile-long project is expected to spur more than 100,000 jobs and generate immeasurable economic benefits for the local communities along its route.  It has already undergone three years of review by the State Department, which found it would have “no significant impact” on the environment.

As the Chicago Tribune summed the advantages in a recent editorial, “You want stimulus?  This is a $7 billion deal to be done with private-sector funding.”

Expanding Access to Reliable Energy

After President Obama’s decision to halt the pipeline, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to developing and marketing its abundant oil resources.  The only question is whether its oil is routed to China or to America’s Gulf Coast refineries. 

With global demand for oil still high, there is no question we need the new jobs and energy security that Keystone would facilitate.  Nearly 13 million Americans remain unemployed, and gasoline prices have nearly doubled since President Obama took office.  Without costing taxpayers a dime, Keystone would put people back to work and expand access to a reliable source of oil from our largest trading partner.  It is a win-win step toward making America less vulnerable to volatile prices from unstable providers, such as Venezuela and Iran.

Seizing a Job-Creating Opportunity

We cannot afford more of the President’s misguided policies like the failed $1 trillion stimulus and de facto moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf.  We should be pursuing job-creating strategies that work, and Keystone is the type of immediate, results-oriented project we need.

The President’s rejection of Keystone may have pleased the radical environmentalists in his political base, but it detracts from the urgent concerns our country is facing.  I am encouraged by the Senate effort to put Keystone back on the agenda and hopeful in its success.