Pipeline Politics: The Real Reason Behind Obama’s Keystone Veto

Greg Jones Freelance Writer
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Every President plays politics, but some do it better than others.

Perhaps no one does it as well as the current commander-in-chief, and nowhere is his Chicago-style political prowess more evident than in his recent veto of the Keystone XL pipeline.

For those unfamiliar, Keystone XL is an extension of an existing oil pipeline that runs from Alberta, Canada, all the way down to where Texas meets the sea.

The XL portion, which has come under so much scrutiny lately, would be just over half as long as the existing pipeline and instead of first going east through Canada, runs straight south through Montana and South Dakota, joining the built portion at the Nebraska/Kansas border, where the existing pipeline will carry the oil from both pipelines to the Gulf through Texas.

With more than 2.5 million miles of oil pipeline running through the United States, the argument that 1,200 more would somehow prove catastrophic is peculiar to say the least. Why on Earth would Obama veto what is essentially a fraction of existing pipeline that would not only give Americans cheaper oil, but create more than 40,000 jobs in the process?

Politics. Think about it: the proposed XL extension runs through solid red states.

To believe that Obama, in the twilight of his presidency with all elections in the rear view, would reward the very places that have vociferously rejected his policies is the definition of naiveté.

After all, the myriad objections to XL have amounted to little more than feeble attacks on common sense.

First, there were the usual environmental challenges; that XL will only increase our dependence on oil and therefore exacerbate “climate change.” Yet this very argument was emphatically refuted by Obama’s own State Department, which concluded that the Keystone extension would be CO2-neutral.

And apparently pipelines leak, releasing hazardous chemicals into the soil and groundwater. Fair enough, but for one small problem: pipelines have in fact been found to be the safest transport method for oil and gas. Trains, the other preferred transport method, also leak — just more often.

When the environmental charges failed to stick, opponents of sensible energy policy trotted out the bizarre notion that XL’s projected 40,000 jobs aren’t “permanent.” Aside from God’s, what job is?

Certainly Obama’s proposed infrastructure jobs during the stimulus were temporary. After all, once the bridge is repaired, the job is over. The workers go home. The world turns.

Let’s face it. The veto of Keystone XL was political, nothing more, nothing less. It was a childish attempt at revenge; the equivalent of taking one’s ball and going home.

After all, now he can appease his environmental backers and shun those who have shunned his policies for the past 6 years. Obama’s plan to explore offshore oil drilling angered many on the environmental left. What better way to bring them back into the fold and punish those that opposed him at the same time?

If this sounds conspiratorial at all, consider a recent study from Reuters. The international news agency found that from 2009-2013, during the dog days of the recession, red state federal funding fell by 40 percent while blue state funding fell only 22.5 percent. Coincidence? Perhaps, but doubtful given the partisanship of this administration.

As a thought experiment, let’s suppose for a moment that Keystone XL ran through Illinois or California, states that favor Obama and Obama favors. Is it realistic in any way to assume that Obama would deny his home state, one of the most Democratic in the country, 40,000 jobs? Or in California, where the Obama administration issued cushy green energy loans to Solyndra, a company connected to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law?

Now, consider South Carolina, a red state if there ever was one and the home of a shiny new Boeing manufacturing plant sued by the National Labor Relations Board, a body stacked with Obama appointees.

The Palmetto State, ravaged by the recession, stood to gain more than 4,000 non-union jobs, all of which were delayed by the NLRB lawsuit. The issue: it wasn’t built in union- and Obama-friendly Washington. Boeing eventually won, and has created even more jobs, despite the obstruction of Obama’s labor cronies.

In short, Obama’s motives are crystal clear. As the CEO of the nation he should be in favor of jobs for everyone, but it seems he is still mired in Chicago politics.

To borrow a quote from Texas Representative John Culberson via the Reuters study:

“The Obama administration approaches the federal government the same way the Chicago machine politicians approach the Chicago public treasury: it’s to be used for their own benefit.”

The sad reality of this blind partisanship is that the benefits of Keystone XL are real. We have seen increased oil production drastically reduce gas prices. The oil will come out of the ground regardless, likely to be shipped to China on a tanker. Exxon Valdez, anyone? And the next time Russia holds Europe hostage with the price of oil, Chicago politics will stand in the way of energy security.