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Obama's Keystone XL Pipeline Decision a Big Mistake

Yesterday, the Obama administration decided to reject rapid approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion, 1,700 mile project that would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The official reason given was because the administration felt that the 60-day deadline imposed by Republicans did not allow adequate time to review an alternate route through an ecologically sensitive area in Nebraska, though it is well-known that President Obama was caving in to environmentalist protests against the project.

This is one of the biggest mistakes yet by the Obama administration on several levels. It’s another example of how Obama cares more about alienating his far left supporters instead of capitalizing on bipartisan opportunities to solve problems, and it is stunts like these that will cost Obama his bid for re-election in 2012.

The top priority for America today is jobs and lowering the unemployment rate. According to TransCanada, the energy company seeking to build the project with the United States, “Keystone XL is shovel-ready. TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline -- pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs -- in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also made it clear that he’s committed to selling this oil from the country’s tar sands, whether it goes to America, China, or any other overseas market. Anticipating that Obama might reject the Keystone XL pipeline, Harper said, “I am very serious about selling our oil off this continent, selling our energy products off to Asia. I think we have to do that.”

So let me get this straight – Canada is selling off this oil no matter what and someone’s going to develop this project and receive the energy benefits. And instead of adding 138,000 jobs to the American workforce and pumping oil from an ally like Canada rather than hostile partners like Saudi Arabia, we’re passing at the opportunity to appease a minority sect of environmentalists who can’t stop the development of these tar sands anyway?

Does this make any sense? Sure, if you’re putting politics ahead of what’s good for the country, which is precisely what the president is doing.

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has done this. In an age of extreme partisanship and polarization, the executive and commander-in-chief should be looking for common ground between both parties and capitalizing on any opportunities available to solve problems.

Thirty-six Democrat, Republican, and Independent senators, 100 Republican and Democrat congressmen, the bipartisan “Gang of Six” plan, and the president’s own Simpson-Bowles debt commission have all advocated pro-growth tax reform; where we close tax loopholes, eliminate special interest carve-outs, and cut tax rates across the board while broadening the tax base. It has worked before and would be a golden opportunity for bipartisan cooperation to solve the problems with America’s tax code as well as clear away uncertainties that are producing reluctance and hesitation from the private sector to expand, invest, and create jobs. Yet President Obama has failed to take any action on this because he’s more interested in appeasing the far left and raising taxes instead.

The Keystone XL pipeline was also another opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. Democratic Senators Kent Conrad (N.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Warner (Va.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Bob Casey (Pa.) all came out in support of it.

“All the trade unions, everyone’s for it, it creates thousands of jobs,” Manchin said.

“I personally think the pipeline is absolutely in the national interest. It’ll help us reduce our dependence on foreign energy, at least foreign sources that are hostile to our interests,” said Conrad.

But once again, President Obama decided against it instead to make the Daryl Hannahs of America happy.

Oh, and here’s the best part. What’s President Obama’s plan to create jobs in substitute of the pipeline? “However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline,” he said, “they’re going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the payroll tax holiday and extending unemployment insurance.”

Seriously. That’s what he said. I kid you not. This is the best he can come up with? This is how he expects to unify Washington? This is not the way to solve problems. This is not the way to lower unemployment. The president is putting politics and special interests ahead of the country’s future and citizens’ well being. America deserves better.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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