Mitch Daniels: Country that can’t build Keystone Pipeline ‘is not serious about helping poor people’

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Former Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says America’s oil and natural gas boom could transform the country, but only if America’s leaders don’t hamper it by blocking projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Speaking to a group of reporters Wednesday at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Daniels discussed the dire need for entitlement reform, but also emphasized the importance economic growth.

“The single best thing, the best break this lucky country has caught — it’s not a break, we made it — the single best event or change I think economically since probably the silicon chip is what happened in energy extraction. All the projections are out the window just in a blink,” he said. “Suddenly, we are the number one producer of oil and gas in the world.”

“If you come from the part of the country I do, there is nothing that could be better for low income people than affordable energy,” he added. “First of all to heat their homes. Secondly, we’re a manufacturing area… It’s suddenly more economical to make stuff here.”

Daniels, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget for President George W. Bush, said the federal government should be encouraging the oil and gas boom, but pointed to the Keystone XL Pipeline as how the government is putting obstacles in its way.

“National policy in a country that needs growth and has that going on should be 100 percent for it and we can’t even build the Keystone Pipeline? The country that can’t build that pipeline today is not serious about helping poor people or preserving a middle class,” Daniels said.

The Keystone pipeline, which is militantly opposed by liberal environmental activists, would connect Canada’s oil sands to refineries in the United States. TransCanada first filed an application to build an extension to the pipeline with the State Department in 2008. After the Obama administration denied the application in 2012, TransCanada modified its proposal and filed a new application several months later. No decision has yet been reached on the new proposal.

Now president of Purdue University, Daniels tried to avoid wading into purely political topics during the nearly hour-event. But when a reporter asked him about Chris Christie’s upcoming re-election race, Daniels couldn’t help to effuse about the Republican New Jersey governor.

“His apparent success proves that people will reward decisive action and truth telling and that people are prepared to look beyond maybe their own party affiliations or even ideological predispositions where they see an instance of effective action in the public interest,” he said. “And I think plainly that’s what’s going on when a guy like Gov. Christie is so successful in a state like the one he lives in.”

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