For more than three years, the application to build the Keystone XL Pipeline has been sitting around Washington waiting for approval.
During that time a lot has happened: gas prices have nearly doubled, unemployment has remained alarmingly high and our nation’s dependence on oil from hostile sources has continued to grow.
And yet on Wednesday the Obama administration dusted off the pipeline’s paper work only to bury the only shovel-ready project that could help fix each of those problems.
That leaves millions of us asking why. Why would the president deny such a vital project? And the answer is apparently time. According to the official release by the State Department, “The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.”
Three years isn’t enough time? Tell that to the construction worker in the unemployment line or the person paying $100 to fill her gas tank.
If it had been approved, the Keystone pipeline system would have carried 1.4 million barrels of oil each day to refineries along the coast of my home state of Texas, significantly expanding North American energy supplies and reducing our need to import oil from unstable regions of the world. Building the Keystone XL Pipeline would also have directly created an estimated 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, and that’s not including the thousands of additional jobs and economic benefits that would have come from an infrastructure project of this magnitude and the secure, stable energy resources it would have delivered.
And this project wouldn’t have cost taxpayers a penny because it was privately funded.
Republicans aren’t the only ones who understand the pipeline’s benefits:
• Just Tuesday, the president’s own jobs council recommended building pipelines and expanding energy exploration in the U.S.
• In October, 22 House Democrats wrote the president a letter praising the economic benefits of the pipeline and urging him to issue a presidential permit.
• Over the past three years, several labor unions have expressed support for the project, reiterating its job-creating potential.
But each of these pleas fell on deaf ears and instead the president decided to play politics with our economy and listened to radical anti-energy activists. They all ignored the fact that the pipeline and its route have been carefully vetted, environmentally scrutinized and publicly discussed for years.
Now the jobs could end up staying in Canada and the oil will likely be shipped to China.
Despite today’s decision, people from both parties will continue to fight for the Keystone XL Pipeline, the jobs it will create and the energy it will bring to our nation.
I applaud Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton for inviting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify on the review her department completed as Congress looks at options to restart the project now that the president has decided he cannot approve it.
You can bet that we will continue to battle to create a job-friendly environment and secure our nation’s energy future.
Joe Barton, a Republican congressman from Texas, is the chairman emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.