President Barack Obama is enabling Russia to become a power player in energy by further delaying a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan says.
"Russia, led by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin . . . has made the decision they're going to use energy to be a strong incentive, a strong driver of their economy . . . [and] influence foreign policy," Hoekstra told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"So, you have Russia using energy and developing energy resources, using it as leverage against western Europe, against parts of the former Soviet Union," he said Wednesday.
"And here we have the United States moving down exactly the same path as western Europe. We've got a war on coal, the president doesn't like fracking, so we've got a partial war on natural gas."
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Hoekstra said the Keystone pipeline has the potential to make Canada, the United States and Mexico energy-independent and a "dominant force" in energy markets around the world.
"It will help strengthen our economy and it will enable us to make sure that our allies who love democracy, who love free markets, become independent of Russia," he said.
Hoekstra's remarks came as he participated on a panel with Christy Setzer, a Democratic strategist, former spokeswoman for Vice President Al Gore and founder of New Heights Communications.
She says Obama is in a difficult position.
"On one hand, he does need to send a strong signal to Putin that we're strong here and he can't just take over the Ukraine and make it 'new Russia,' as apparently he's been talking about it as,'' Setzer said.
"On the other hand, there's clearly no appetite with the American people for sending more troops or anything more aggressive that actually might send that message.
"So, some of the options the congressman was talking about are smart ones, but the president is somewhat limited on some of the actions he can take," Setzer said.
She added that Obama has not been such "a strident opponent" of the Keystone Pipeline.
"In fact, to the dismay of environmentalists, he's actually been very middle-of-the-road on this and taken sort of a very cautious line of reasoning on it," Setzer said.
"I'm one of those people that think it shouldn't get done. It's been proven again and again that we're going to get maybe a temporary very minimal boost of jobs in people who are actually creating the pipeline.
"But it does not do any sort of long-term good for the economy in terms of job. It does significant damage to the environment."
But Hoesktra said oil coming from Keystone would be processed in "the best and cleanest refineries in the world into all kinds of byproducts which will be exported globally. They will have a positive impact."
"It's not just about the pipeline, it's about getting the raw ingredients into our industrial base which will be processed and which will be exported . . . [and] have a tremendous economic benefit," he said.
"The president hasn't been middle of the road, the president clearly has said all along, I'm going to do everything I can to delay a decision and by delaying a decision it just won't happen."
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