Secretary of State John Kerry called for increased economic integration of countries in the Western Hemisphere, specifically mentioning the region’s energy potential.
“Today, it’s clear, the world’s new energy map is no longer centered in the Middle East, but in the Western Hemisphere,” Kerry said, adding that the region should move quickly to lower the barriers to trade.
Kerry said that it’s vital for the Western Hemisphere to develop “sustainable energy supplies” to fight global warming, Politico Pro reported. But Kerry made no mention of a major energy project that would facilitate Western Hemispheric energy trade: the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Keystone XL pipeline would bring more than 800,000 barrels oil sands per day from Canada into the U.S. to be refined. The U.S. imported 1.1 million barrels of oil and petroleum products from Canada last year. Keystone XL could bring this to four million barrels per day by 2030 — twice the amount the U.S. imports from the Persian Gulf.
But the State Department has delayed its decision on whether or not Keystone would be in the national interest. The State Department was set to make a decision by the end of May, but last month announced they were indefinitely pushing back their decision because of Nebraska court ruling on the project’s route.
Pipeline supporters were angry, saying this decision was politically motivated and would only hurt working class Americans.
“This is once again politics at its worst,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “In another gutless move, the administration is delaying a finding on whether the pipeline is in the national interest based on months-old litigation in Nebraska regarding a state level challenge to a state process — and which has nothing to with the national interest.”
Environmentalists have argued that the pipeline will contribute to global warming because it will spur more development of Canadian oil sands, which they argue is more carbon dioxide-intensive than conventional oil.
“It is already clear that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline fails the climate test and will damage our climate, our lands, and our waters,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Getting this decision right includes being able to evaluate the yet-to-be determined route through Nebraska and continuing to listen to the many voices that have raised concerns about Keystone XL,” she added.
Obama administration critics also argue that the delay was to appease billionaire liberal donor Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who has funneled millions into environmental causes — including opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Tom Steyer: 1; American jobs: 0,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
Steyer has promised to raise $100 million to make global warming a top issue in the 2014 elections. He was a major force for campaign cash in the 2013 election season, and Democrats have been accused of jockeying for more of Steyer’s money.
Keystone delays put energy state Democrats in a precarious position. They have to appease their constituents by pushing for the pipeline’s approval while also toeing the party line on global warming. A recent poll done by the pro-pipeline Consumer Energy Alliance found that voters in Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and New Hampshire were much less likely to vote Democrat this fall is the Obama administration delayed the Keystone XL again.
“In Iowa 35 percent of voters would by less likely to vote for a Democrat, 38 percent are less likely in Kentucky, 31 percent in Michigan, 37 percent in Montana, and 34 percent in New Hampshire,” the Hill newspaper reported.
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