Is it too much to ask our president to take a five-minute break from shilling his failing health care plan on the TV talk circuit to sign off on the Keystone XL pipeline?
He’s indicated – numerous times, in fact – that he’ll use his pen to “help” the American people. Well, here’s a chance to do some real good.
The Keystone Canada-to-U.S. oil pipeline is ready to go. The $5.3 billion privately funded project will create 42,000 jobs and deliver 830,000 barrels of oil a day to our Gulf Coast refineries, slashing overseas imports by 40 percent starting in 2015.
So what’s the president waiting for?
Dubious opposition that has stalled the 1,179-mile pipeline wanes every day. Last month it cleared all of the State Department’s environmental hurdles after spending five years hogtied in Obama administration red tape. And a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed the majority of Americans favor the pipeline’s construction – including a startling 49 percent of Democrats.
Still, he keeps the country waiting.
Has he and his handful of green-energy acolytes not realized economic momentum, and plain common sense, is against them?
Fighting the pipeline won’t stop Canadians from mining their Alberta oil sands. It won’t stop them from moving that oil using other means – namely emissions-producing trucks, trains and tanker ships. It won’t stop them from selling that oil to other countries, likely to developing Asian nations. And it won’t stop those nations from burning that oil in combustion engines to fuel their industry at the expense of ours.
The only thing that further delaying Keystone will do is alienate a friendly next-door neighbor, weaken our own economy and ensure the U.S. continues to import oil from capricious and hostile regions such as the Middle East and Venezuela.
Blocking the pipeline also could send the wrong message to domestic energy markets, disrupting a nascent energy revival that has managed to occur despite the chokehold from one of the most anti-business administrations in history.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that domestic crude production last year reached the highest levels in 24 years, largely because of shale fracking in North Dakota and Texas. Also, the United States is now the world leader in natural gas production, having overtaken Russia in 2012, again, largely because of fracking.
Do we really want to take a step backward now, when Russia and other less-than-democratic regions prop up their aggressive postures using energy reserves as a trump card?
Sadly, it appears President Obama – if he approves the project at all – may wait until the final day.
With the March 7 closing of the public comment period, federal agencies have 60 days to offer comments before the State Department weighs whether the project is in the national interest. Obama recently said he will make a decision on the permit within “a couple of months.”
It’s not a big deal, after all. Hey, he’s a busy guy. You know, with all the talk shows and stuff.