President shouldn’t whiff on second chance for jobs and oil
TransCanada’s decision to reapply for a federal permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border offers President Obama something that rarely comes around – a second chance to do the right thing.
When the president rejected TransCanada’s original Keystone XL application – finding a project capable of delivering roughly 1 million barrels of oil a day to American refineries not in the national interest – he threw away a golden opportunity to create jobs and improve America’s energy security.
The reasons for approving the pipeline are straightforward: It’s a shovel-ready project that’s great for our economy. It would bring oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, and would pick up American oil produced in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska along the way.
Keystone XL is exactly the type of world-class, private-sector infrastructure project that a nation mired in debt, deeply dependent on expensive foreign oil and desperate for jobs should embrace. Its construction would ensure a secure, long-term supply of oil from a close ally and provide well-paying jobs for thousands of Americans. Yet, what should have been an easy decision fell victim to election-year politics last January as the president sought to appease his environmental base.
Now that TransCanada has reapplied for its cross-border permit, the president has another chance to make the right call. Trans-Canada has even rerouted the pipeline around sensitive lands in Nebraska, taking away the president’s only stated reason for blocking the project.
So how has the administration reacted? The State Department says it will issue a decision on TransCanada’s application next year. But there’s no reason to wait. President Obama could do today what he should have done four months ago. Pushing off a decision until after the November election may be good politics for him, but dragging this process out will only hurt our economy and our energy security.
If the president continues to delay Keystone, Congress should approve the pipeline as part of the transportation bill now before a House-Senate conference committee. While some have expressed their desire to avoid “controversial” issues during conference negotiations, the real controversy is the president’s decision to block the line in the first place. With millions of Americans out of work and a growing need for a stable supply of energy, it makes good sense to approve Keystone XL quickly.
Some think that the longer Keystone is delayed, the less likely it will happen. That’s true – but it doesn’t mean Canada will halt the development of its oil resources as a result. Instead, our neighbors to the north will simply seek different buyers. At least two projects are now under way that will allow Canada to send more of its oil through alternative pipelines to ports on its west coast, where it can be shipped to markets in Asia.