The central conflict of the Obama Presidency has been between the jobs and growth crisis he inherited and the President’s hell-for-leather pursuit of his larger social-policy ambitions. The tragedy is that the economic recovery has been so lackluster because the second impulse keeps winning.
Yesterday came proof positive with the White House’s repudiation of the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada’s $7 billion shovel-ready project that would support tens of thousands of jobs if only it could get the requisite U.S. permits. Those jobs, apparently, can wait.
Unless the President objected, December’s payroll tax deal gave TransCanada the go-ahead in February to start building the pipeline, which would travel 1,661 miles from Alberta to interconnections in Oklahoma and then carry Canadian crude to U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast.
The State Department, which presides over the Keystone XL review because it would cross the 49th parallel, claimed yesterday that the two-month Congressional deadline was too tight “for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.” The White House also issued a statement denouncing Congress’s “rushed and arbitrary deadline,” which merely passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
This is, to put it politely, a crock.
Keystone XL has been planned for years and only became a political issue after the well-to-do environmental lobby decided to make it a station of the green cross. TransCanada filed its application in 2008, and State determined in 2010 and then again last year that the project would have “no significant impacts” on the environment, following exhaustive studies. The Environmental Protection Agency chose to intervene anyway, and the political left began to issue ultimatums and demonstrate in front of the White House, so President Obama decided to defer a final decision until after the election.
The missed economic opportunity was spelled out Tuesday by Mr. Obama’s own Jobs Council, which released a report that endorsed an “all-in approach” on energy, including the “profound new opportunities in shale gas and unconventional oil.” The 27 members handpicked by the President recommended that he support “policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects,” and they warned that failing to do so “would stall the engine that could become a prime driver of U.S. jobs and growth in the decades ahead.”
Only last week the White House issued a “jobs” report praising domestic energy production, but that now looks like political cover for this anti-jobs policy choice.
State did give TransCanada permission to reapply using an alternate route, timetable indefinite. The construction workers, pipefitters, mechanics, welders and electricians who might otherwise be hired for the project—well, they must be thrilled with this consolation prize. Not to mention all the other Americans who might fill “spin-off” jobs on the pipeline’s supply chain like skilled manufacturers and equipment suppliers, or still others who might work in oil refining and distribution.
Environmentalists seem to think they can prevent the development of Canada’s oil-rich tar sands, and that their rallies against Keystone XL will keep that carbon in the ground. They can’t, and it won’t. America’s largest trading partner will simply build a pipeline to the Pacific coast from Alberta and sell its petroleum products to Asia instead, China in particular.
Such green delusions are sad, and Mr. Obama’s pandering is sadder, though everything the country stands to lose is saddest. If Mitt Romney and the other GOP candidates have any political wit, they’ll vindicate the Keystone’s “national interest” and make Mr. Obama explain why job creation is less important than the people who make a living working for the green anti-industrial complex.
Taken directly from Congressman Allen West’s Facebook Page