Now, tens of thousands of American workers will be left to wonder about the lost opportunity of possibly the most shovel-ready of all projects.
Recently the President has been on the campaign trail proclaiming the slogan “We can’t wait”.
The President had a golden opportunity to take bold action and he declined to do so. It appears the reality is he can’t wait to start a reelection campaign that appeases extreme environmentalists and casts aside blue collar workers.
Opponents of the Keystone pipeline continually deceive the public with a series of misguided statements, such as how pipelines transporting diluted bitumen are dangerous, or that the pipeline will increase gasoline prices, or how killing the pipeline will halt oil sands production.
But consider this statement by Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Having Canada as a supplier of our oil is much more comforting than having other countries supply our oil.”
Or this finding from the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement: “Both synthetic crude oil and dilbit [diluted bitumen] are similar in composition and quality to the crude oils currently transported in pipelines in the U.S. and being refined in Gulf Coast refineries.”
And this, from former White House economic advisor Austin Goolsbee: “It’s a bit naïve to think the oil sands would not be developed if they don’t build that pipeline.”
So while the president’s own advisors make numerous statements about the Keystone pipeline that completely rebut all arguments against it, why has the president refused to move forward with the permitting?
Even without their answers, I think it is very safe to assume this latest delay has nothing to do with pipeline safety, oil sands production or even the state of Nebraska.
Instead, it has everything to do with appeasing a small but vocal group of opponents of the project.
We in Congress, like the President, must make policy decisions based upon our best information and best judgment. Most important decisions that we make involve economic and policy risks.
But in this case, it seems that the biggest risk is for us to stand by and do nothing. So we are going to make every effort to see to it that this pipeline is built.
That may require giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the federal agency responsible for domestic pipeline siting, the limited authority to make the final decision on the permit of the Keystone XL pipeline. It is only because the proposed pipeline crosses an international border that the builder must obtain a Presidential Permit for that purpose and that the Department of State has been given responsibility to determine whether or not the pipeline is in the national interest.
The House will move promptly to consider this and other, alternative approaches at a hearing in my subcommittee next week, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be invited to explain the Administration’s decision not to issue the permit.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.