Everyone agrees that the 2012 election will be about jobs and the economy. Two years into a “recovery,” America still suffers from record high unemployment and underemployment. Politicians are searching far and wide for ways to generate more jobs and economic opportunity.
That’s why the Obama administration’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline is so stunning. The pipeline would carry oil from the oil sands fields of Western Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico and generate as many as 20,000 new jobs, many in construction.
The proposal has overwhelming public support, including strong support from many Democrats as well as national labor unions.
The pipeline would further energy independence, i.e., access to energy supplies from friendly sources, a stated goal of Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns since the 1970s. Yet the administration still said no to this project.
So we have to ask: who exactly is happy with this decision?
Stone Age environmentalists are happy. These are elites buried in nonprofit lobby groups, university faculties, and the EPA who believe that America can meet its energy needs with wind, solar, and other “renewable” sources.
They see more merit in government loans to companies like Solyndra that produced useless solar panels rather than private investment in traditional fuels including oil, natural gas and nuclear. Renewables are a part of our energy future, but just that — a part and not the whole of our energy portfolio.
Rejecting access to Canadian oil keeps gasoline prices at record high levels, turns a blind eye to historically high unemployment, and ensures that our “economic recovery” will remain one of the weakest on record.
China is happy. If the Canadians can’t export the oil south to America, they will send it west to — China. China thirsts for stable oil sources and is actively looking for alternatives to Persian Gulf oil where they are heavily dependent.
The logical alternative for Ottawa is to send their oil across the Pacific. In fact, in response to the president’s decision, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister told reporters this week that “[the] decision by the Obama administration underlines the importance of diversifying and expanding our markets, including the growing Asian market.” And who can blame them.
China will establish a long-term relationship with an exporter of North American oil, and we will have the privilege of continuing to import oil from unstable areas of the world.
Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Ahmadinejad are happy. These two control critical choke points along the supply of oil to the United States. Venezuela exports a sizable amount of its petrol to the United States. Iran continues its saber-rattling with military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost 20 percent of the world’s oil flows to market.
By denying the Keystone pipeline, the president has essentially blocked an additional 800,000 barrels a day of friendly Western Hemisphere oil from getting to our markets and displacing the growing influence of Venezuela’s oil and Iran’s unstable theocracy on our economic and national security.
Any country run by either of these regimes cannot be considered a friendly or stable trading partner. A new guaranteed supply from Canada would have made Chavez and Ahmadinejad odd men out.
Saudi Arabia is happy. The U.S. currently imports 11 percent of its supplies from Persian Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia. The Saudis cannot always be counted upon to increase its production to keep prices stable.
Just as China would be weaning itself away from Persian Gulf oil, we would miss the chance to decrease our dependence on this most unstable of energy sources. It must be a long-term U.S. goal to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East to the lowest possible level.
Who will be hurt by this decision? How about workers looking for jobs? How about families facing record-high energy costs? How about Americans concerned about continuing to send our hard-earned cash to dictators in Venezuela, the Middle East, and China?
Apparently, the administration believes that addressing these concerns of ordinary Americans is incompatible with Obama’s re-election.
It makes you wonder, just what is compatible with his vision to remake America?
To complete this cynical calculation, the administration actually blamed Republicans for forcing them to make a decision on the pipeline. Imagine that, forcing a president to act. He must have thought that voting “present” like he did as an Illinois state senator was an option for the leader of the Free World.
Frank Donatelli is Chairman of GOPAC, the center for educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders.
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