Economy / Energy / Environment / Environmental Regulation / Presidency

Keystone Pipeline: The Time to Act Is Now

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, mentioned the administrations efforts to reduce America’s energy dependence on foreign nations.

The president’s energy section in the State of the Union was small, lackluster and dodgy. The president avoided any mention of one of the best ways for the U.S. to increase our import of North American oil by six percent. The Keystone XL Pipeline, which has been in the works since early 2008, would benefit thousands of Americans and would reduce the U.S.’s dependence on oil imports from countries in the Persian Gulf, where instability has lead the U.S. into several conflicts over the past two decades.

In addition to reducing our dependence on foreign oil the pipeline is estimated to create thousands of jobs for American workers who would design, build and manage the pipeline. In a time when the American people are in dire need of jobs, it is time for President Obama to act and put more Americans back to work. As of now, government action, or in the case of the pipeline inaction, and regulations will once again prevent hard working Americans from jobs that they desperately need. With an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, how can the president not create these jobs by building the Keystone pipeline?

It has been two years since President Obama first rejected TransCanada Corp’s permit request to build the pipeline that would bring oil from Canada and some U.S. states to refineries in Texas with drop off points in both Texas and Oklahoma. At the time the president stated that he would not allow the pipeline to be built because it would potentially harm the environmentally sensitive Sandhills area in Nebraska. Since that time there has been a new plan drafted that would avoid this area.

In addition to the new plan avoiding the Sandhills in Nebraska, in 2011 the State Department released an environmental impact study that  “suggests that there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project corridor”. With all environmental factors considered, there seems to be no reason as to why President Obama cannot use his pen, take action and allow the pipeline to be built.

President Obama was sent a letter, signed by 45 U.S. senators, asking that he make a decision about the fate of the pipeline. The letter also says that the president told Republican senators in March of 2013 that a decision would be made by the end of the year. The end of the year has come and passed and the president has still not made a decision about what is to happen with the Keystone XL pipeline.

A recent poll released by USA Today stated that 56 percent of Americans now support the construction of the northern part of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama has had many months to deliberate with his advisors about the implications that the pipeline would have, now is the time to act. The president should listen to the American people and approve the building of the pipeline. The job creation, increase in oil imports from Canada and a chance for the U.S. to strengthen its relationship with an important ally while reducing American dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world are enough reasons for the president to approve the pipeline.