If Obama wants to be grand marshal of a one-man parade against the Keystone XL pipeline, he’s doing a heckuva job.
Top Democrats along the proposed pipeline route favor Keystone. These include U.S. senators Jon Tester of Montana and freshman Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Texas representatives Henry Cuellar, Charles A. Gonzalez, Al Green, Gene Green, Ruben Hinojosa, and Sheila Jackson Lee all have pleaded with Obama to give Keystone the green light.
Labor unions also favor the link between Canada’s friendly oil and Gulf Coast refineries eager to convert it into gasoline, jet fuel, and brake fluid.
The AFL-CIO and Laborers’ International Union of North America are just two of the major workers’ groups behind Keystone.
Obama’s very own State Department concluded on March 1 that Keystone is “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on so-called “global warming.” This should comfort those who see Keystone’s risk as less a matter of spilling oil than burning it. State’s decision echoes the fact that if Canada’s oil flows to China rather than the U.S., it likely will be used with few if any of the clean-air rules that govern the American energy sector.
And late last week, 22 Republican lieutenant governors wrote Obama to urge him to approve the pipeline. As they argued:
A secure supply of crude oil is important in order to allow the U.S. economy to thrive and grow, free from the potential threats and disruptions of crude oil supply from less secure parts of the world. The growing production of conflict-free oil from Canada’s oil sands and the Bakken formation in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana and North Dakota can replace crude oil imported from other countries. Canada is a trusted neighbor with a stable democratic government, strong environmental standards similar to that of the U.S., and some of the most pro-human rights and worker protection laws in the world.
These deputy state executives also noted Keystone’s employment benefits as 7.7 percent unemployment still rages. “Implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline will create and support thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs in the U.S. — representing work for pipefitters, welders, electricians, heavy equipment operators and others in virtually every state in the U.S. Nearly all of the pipe used to build Keystone XL in the U.S. will come from North American mills, including a significant percentage made by U.S. workers.”
Obama once pointed to the Ogallala Aquifer, a sort of underground Great Lake and fresh-water supply that, supposedly, Keystone would threaten. Never mind that it has been interlaced with industrial pipelines for decades.
Then again, such pipelines cover most of the U.S. and have done so since the 19th century. To worry oneself sick about Keystone amid this tangle of old conduits is like warning about the dangers of a particular 757 just before it becomes the 100th aircraft to land that day at JFK.
Besides, Obama has lost the Ogallala out now that Governor Dave Heineman (R., Neb.) persuaded TransCanada to shift the pipeline route so that it avoids the Cornhusker State’s Sandhills region, which environmentalists claim could let spilled oil leech into the aquifer — if terrible odds allowed the 2,480-mile pipeline to rupture right at that spot. In any case, TransCanada now will steer Keystone clear of that tricky area. Problem solved.
Big Labor, local Democrats, Obama’s State Department, a key governor along the pipeline route, and nearly two dozen lieutenant governors all want to make Keystone happen.
Rather than concoct $21 billion in brand-new infrastructure jobs — the kind of positions that the $833 billion stimulus was supposed to create — Obama should stop Washington’s four and a half years of study and authorize the Keystone Pipeline already!