Column: Keystone delay based exclusively on politics
After five and a half years and five federal reviews, the president still refuses to approve the application permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. His reasoning is centered on incorrect environmental concerns. During the late afternoon on Friday, Jan. 31st, the State Department issued its final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Pipeline; a report that gages the affects construction would have on the environment. To no real surprise, the document looked almost identical to a prior version released last spring and revealed that the Keystone project will not impose significant environmental risks.
The president and his liberal Democrat allies have always argued that building the pipeline would directly cause development of the Canadian oil sands, which would lead to increased carbon emissions. This study from the president’s own agency refutes his excuse in finding this claim to be untrue.
Now that the president can no longer hide behind erroneous excuses, it is time for him to approve construction of the pipeline. We’ve waited more than 1,960 days as he has continued to place politics over sound energy policy and delayed the project to please his liberal base. His administration has claimed that creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign fuel are key initiatives they support. However, their actions speak far louder than their words.
The Keystone Pipeline will create more than 100,000 American jobs without costing taxpayers a single dime. Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline will directly create jobs in your community. In South Carolina alone, Michelin Tire Corporation in Lexington manufactures tires and MTU America in Graniteville builds engines, which outfit the earthmover machines used for oil sand recovery in Alberta, Canada. The president has dismissed these jobs as temporary, but he is wrong – they are permanent jobs.
Competition of this project will also promote energy independence, as our need for foreign oil will be reduced, thus lowering gas prices here at home. Unfortunately, the President continues to listen to the vocal liberal minority because he is afraid of losing election funding. This week, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed this theory when he acknowledged that the Administration’s decision is strictly political, and has no scientific backing. With a recent USA Today poll indicating 56 percent of Americans support this project, President Obama should stand up for the unemployed Americans who have been tirelessly searching for a job and not environmental activists who are fixated on hypotheticals.
Bipartisanship in Washington exists in support of Keystone. A group of House Republicans and Democrats have taken countless votes in support of this critically important energy project. Although Senate leadership refuses to consider our efforts, Senators Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, have publicly stated their support and asked the administration to change course. Even the President’s own former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar backs the pipeline and has called it a “win-win” project.
Thus, we come to a crossroads where the President is charged with the task of leading on the domestic front. I challenge him to think about what is best for our country, our workers, our national security, and American families. He must take politics out of play and make the best decision for the country, not the one that will solidify his legacy in the eyes of the far left.
The decision of whether to move forward on the Keystone XL Pipeline now hangs solely on the President’s shoulders. Rest assured, I will continue to stand strong and support this project. The time to act is now and I will continue to use my voice in Congress to put pressure on the administration to take the correct step. The president is out of excuses. It should be a done deal.
Joe Wilson is the U.S. representative for South Carolina’s 2nd congressional district.