The Keystone XL oil pipeline would create 20,000 jobs in the nation’s manufacturing and construction sectors, boosting the economy while helping put the United States on the road toward energy independence, U.S. Rep. Allen West told a Rotary Club of Palm Beach audience on Thursday.
West cited Iran’s threat to close the key global oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz, as evidence of the need for the United States to end its dependence on foreign oil.
About one-sixth of the world’s oil passes on tankers through the Strait of Hormuz, and analysts have warned the price of Brent crude could temporarily jump to as high as $210 if the strait is closed; the current price is $112.66, according to Oil-Price.net. The U.S. has pledged to keep the shipping route open.
Nearly 50 percent of the oil consumed in the United States is imported from foreign countries. The 1,661-mile pipeline would bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas.
Congress recently passed legislation that contains a provision requiring President Barack Obama to make a decision within 60 days on whether to allow the pipeline.
Obama had sought to delay a decision on the pipeline until 2013, saying that would allow time for an environmental review and to hear public opinion.
But with environmental groups fighting the project, it has moved to front and center of American politics during an election year.
West addressed an audience of about 40 people at a Rotary Club of Palm Beach luncheon at The Breakers.
Turning to other topics, he said the nation is now in its third consecutive year with a budget deficit exceeding $1 trillion, and must bring spending until control. Mandatory spending programs are at 62 percent, he said, and entitlements must be brought under control.
At $700 billion, defense spending only accounts for 20 percent of the budget, and the military should not be cut if America is to face threats from Iran, North Korea, and Islamic radical groups who have seized a greater share of power in Egypt and other nations since the Arab revolutions of last year, he said.
Michele Sordolet of Royal Palm Beach attended the luncheon as a guest of her mother, Anita Manuel, who is a past president and treasurer-elect of the Rotary Club.
“I think he was fabulous,” Sordolet said of West, whose 22nd congressional district includes Palm Beach. “He was articulate and extremely knowledgeable.”