Politics & Policy

America’s Energy Nightmare

Protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, March 2014 (Alex Wong/Gety Images)
For the sake of American prosperity and security, President Obama needs to approve Keystone.

What do we need to turn our country around? Well, for starters, we need a president who stops getting his energy policies from Hollywood movies — and Hollywood liberals.

Consider President Obama’s dithering when it comes to approving the Keystone XL pipeline. First proposed in 2008, this massive infrastructure project would bring low-cost crude oil from fields in Canada southward to the United States. Despite nearly six years of government reviews — and nearly four dozen oil and gas pipelines already safely operating between the U.S. and Canada — the Obama administration and the State Department still have not approved the pipeline.

The president and liberals in his administration apparently believe in energy policies that are a twisted version of Kevin Costner’s vision in Field of Dreams. While Costner believed that “If you build it, they will come,” the administration apparently believes that if it doesn’t approve Keystone XL, the oil resources in Canada will stay where they are.

But President Obama couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently gave preliminary approval to the Northern Gateway pipeline. That project would transport Canadian crude oil from the fields in Alberta westward to British Columbia. From there, it could be shipped by tanker to countries in the Far East.

So the question is not whether or not crude oil will move from Canada into worldwide consumption; that will occur regardless of the State Department’s decision on Keystone XL. The real question is whether the United States will capitalize on the opportunity that Keystone brings to expand our energy supply and reduce prices for consumers — or whether those benefits will go to other countries, including economic and strategic rivals like China.

In addition to generating well-paying jobs — the State Department’s own review concluded that construction would create 40,000 jobs — Keystone XL also represents a key plank in securing the resources America needs to support our economy. The project could reduce the amount of oil America imports from Venezuela, the Middle East, and other unstable regions of the world by up to 40 percent. This will be oil produced in North America, by companies employing thousands of American and Canadian citizens, under governmental frameworks that protect the environment and respect human rights.

But that’s not enough for the radical environmentalist crowd. Hollywood liberals like Robert Redford and Daryl Hannah oppose the pipeline, along with billionaire Tom Steyer — who views Keystone as a political litmus test, and has pledged to spend more than $100 million supporting candidates who share his view. Steyer and others believe that, if Keystone isn’t approved, Canada will “not be able to develop these oil sands.” But their theory just isn’t accurate. The Canadian government’s approval of the Northern Gateway project shows that the oil sands will be developed whether we approve Keystone or not.

The problem isn’t just that Tom Steyer and the Left generally oppose Keystone; it’s that they oppose cheap energy, period. Liberals have transformed the abolition of carbon-based energy sources into a virtual religion, with opposition to Keystone among its most prominent tenets. It’s the same attitude that led the Obama administration to propose regulations on carbon sources that will decimate the coal industry and could raise electricity costs by an average of $17 billion per year between now and 2030.

President Obama knew what he was doing when he picked as his first energy secretary Steven Chu — someone who had said he wanted to “boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” But the administration’s agenda won’t hurt just oil and gas producers — it will also hurt millions of ordinary Americans, who will pay more on their electric bills, face higher prices for myriad consumer goods, and see fewer job openings, because our economy will grow at a slower pace. Meanwhile America will become less secure — more dependent on potentially hostile regimes for our energy, and hindered by economic stagnation, even as countries like China use cheaper energy sources to turbocharge growth and development.

While the Left dreams of outlawing carbon-based fuels and the internal-combustion engine, its dream is quickly becoming a nightmare for millions of Americans. It’s time for President Obama to stop indulging his liberal backers’ fantasies and return to the reality of a country that desperately needs the jobs that plentiful energy can provide. Mr. President, please put your “pen and phone” to good use. Approve the Keystone XL pipeline today.

— Bobby Jindal is governor of Louisiana.

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