Wicker: After Six Years, President Still Punting on Keystone XL

Administration’s Political Delays Have Put Job Creation, Economic Development on Hold

September 22, 2014

On September 19, 2008, TransCanada applied for a U.S. presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,179-mile-long project would ship more than 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries. Moreover, Canada’s oil output is projected to hit 6.4 million barrels per day by 2030 – almost double today’s levels.

What should have been a routine approval process with America’s ally and largest trading partner has instead been ensnarled for six years in political tactics by the Obama Administration. Radical environmental groups have put pressure on the President to reject the project entirely. In response, he has repeatedly delayed a final decision, sidestepping any backlash from voters in an election year.

Pipeline Would Mean 42,000 Jobs

The advantages of the pipeline are numerous. Chief among them is the potential for new jobs and economic growth. According to the State Department, the construction of Keystone XL could support more than 42,000 jobs. Funded by private-sector dollars, it would cost taxpayers nothing.

Keystone XL has also cleared multiple environmental assessments by the State Department, which is overseeing the review because the pipeline crosses an international border. Although critics allege that the project would have a harmful impact on the environment, the Administration’s own reports conclude that the effects would be negligible. In fact, pipelines are proven to be the most efficient way to transport oil. If approved, Keystone XL would join more than 10,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines that have already been built in the United States over the past six years.

Keystone XL has bipartisan backing in Congress as well as the support of a majority of Americans. Before the sixth anniversary of TransCanada’s application, every Republican in the Senate signed a letter to the President once again urging a decision without delay. Eleven Democrats sent a similar letter of support for the project earlier this year. President Obama had promised a decision by the end of last year.

Administration Sets Radical Climate Priorities

The indefinite postponement of Keystone XL is not the only job-killing item on the Obama Administration’s extreme climate agenda. The President has put forward drastic proposals for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, effectively waging an all-out war on coal. In forcing the closure of coal-fired power plants, EPA’s sweeping overreach of executive power would jeopardize investment, jobs, and U.S. competitiveness – as well as energy security. Americans would bear higher energy costs, and little impact would be made on the environment.

Earlier this month, the Administration went even further with environmental initiatives to phase out a chemical coolant commonly found in refrigerators and air conditioners – citing an alleged link to global warming. The announcement preceded President Obama’s appearance at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York.

It is disappointing that the President continues to pursue his dubious fight against climate change and his political agenda as Americans look for relief in a difficult economy. Keystone XL would provide needed job growth and economic development, putting tens of thousands of Americans to work right away. There is no doubt that Canada’s rich energy resources will be developed. The question is whether America will seize this opportunity to build its capacity for North American energy or send these abundant and stable resources to Asian markets. Americans are looking to the President for a decision that recognizes the national interests at stake.