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Senate Republicans Demand Obama Set Politics Aside, Decide On Keystone Pipeline; Even AFL-CIO Says It “Begins And Ends With One Word: JOBS”‏

November 30th, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

At a press conference this this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, joined by Sens. Dick Lugar (R-IN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Thune (R-SD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), David Vitter (R-LA), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), called on President Obama to make a final decision on whether to allow the Keystone XL pipeline project go forward.

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport oil extracted from oil sands in Western Canada to American refineries in Texas. The project would create tens of thousands of jobs and allow the United States to get more energy from its friendly northern ally instead of from the Middle East. The pipeline has been described as a “lifeline” for jobs and “the largest shovel-ready project out there” by labor unions and energy interests alike.

According to Bloomberg News, “At a time when almost one in 10 Americans is unemployed, TransCanada Corp. (TRP) expects to create 20,000 jobs to build the pipeline, Chief Executive Officer Russell Girling told reporters on Oct. 7.” Writing in The Huffington Post earlier this month, even the AFL-CIO’s president of the union’s Building and Construction Trades Department says, “For America’s skilled craft construction professionals, any discussion of the Keystone XL project begins and ends with one word: JOBS. Today, roughly 14% of the American construction workforce is unemployed — which is significantly higher than the overall national unemployment rate of 9%.” He adds, “Throughout America’s Heartland, the Keystone Pipeline represents the prospect for 20,000 immediate jobs, and as many as 500,000 indirect jobs via a strong economic multiplier effect. . . . The privately-financed Keystone XL pipeline project is projected to create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in construction and manufacturing, and without one single dollar of government assistance.” CNBC reported in September, ‘We’re building what is the largest infrastructure project in North America,’ said TransCanada spokesman James Miller, expressing confidence the pipeline will be approved. ‘We’re putting a lot of people to work.’”

During the press conference, Sen. Lugar announced his bill (cosponsored by 37 senators) which would require the Secretary of State to issue a permit within 60 days that allows the Keystone XL project to move forward, unless the president determines the pipeline is not in the national interest. The bill also established Congressional affirmation that the project is good for job creation, economic growth, and national security. Further, it contains environmental and states’ rights protections, especially for Nebraska.

So why is President Obama delaying a decision on a project Sen. Thune called a “no-brainer” today? A Houston Chronicle editorial laid bare the answer: “The Obama administration’s decision to postpone a ruling on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline till 2013 is a poorly disguised political punt. . . . The ruling has 2012 presidential politics written all over it . . . .” Rolling Stone added, “Big campaign donors… pressured the president to deny the permit.” And Reuters wrote last month, “Reeling from months of protests, President Barack Obama’s advisers are worried that administration approval for a planned oil pipeline from Canada could cost him political support from Democrats in 2012.”

If the president really wants “shovel-ready” projects that will enhance American infrastructure and create jobs, there’s clearly no reason to delay or block the Keystone XL pipeline, unless politics are more important to this White House.

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