Obama’s pipeline politics costs 20,000 U.S.jobs

Lynn Westmoreland's picture

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department announced it would take at least another 18 months to complete the required environmental review and public comment period for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The pipeline would run from Canada through six U.S. states, sending 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

This delay comes on the heels of a more than three year extensive review of the project – and it conveniently pushes the final approval date to after the 2012 presidential elections.

This announcement is clearly a political move by President Obama. By delaying this decision until after the election, the president is able to appease the environmental activists at his liberal base while at the same time not having to disappoint the almost 80 percent of Americans who want to receive more oil from Canada.

It seems like a win-win for a president who seems to prefer the campaign trail to actually governing. Unfortunately, the president’s decision to punt means a delay in the creation of 20,000 high-wage U.S. jobs.

And that’s not all. The Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to bring in an estimated $5 billion in new property taxes to state and local governments along the pipeline route.

Those much-needed revenues could be used by states to pay for teachers, emergency responders, and other state employees who have seen layoffs and salary cuts over the last several years.

It would also help to decrease our dependency on unstable countries, like Saudi Arabia, to feed our oil needs. Not to mention the pipeline would strengthen our relationship with our neighbor to the north and our largest trading partner. If we don’t take advantage of this oil source, countries like China are more than ready to step in.

After his cap-and-trade legislation went down in flames in 2009 even with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, President Obama has been using every back-door trick he could find to enact his pro-environmental agenda.

His motto seems to be, “Why save a job when you can save a tree?” We have seen this time and time again at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and I have discussed it several times in this Regulatory Roundup column.

President Obama has apparently never seen a regulation he doesn’t like. So almost three years into his presidency, we have a regulatory system that is slowly strangling our economy.

As our unemployment rate continues to hover at 9 percent, Congress and the White House need to be instituting pro-growth initiatives to create American jobs.

The State Department has already spent more than three years conducting environmental impact studies and reviews of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Prolonging their final decision another 18 months so President Obama can try to avoid an uncomfortable conversation on the campaign trail is just unacceptable.

[Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3rd District) was first elected to Congress in 2004 and currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He lives in Grantville.]