The Keystone XL Pipeline project jumped through every hurdle that the government could throw at it. It went through extensive environmental assessments and grueling public hearings in every state through which it would pass, yet in the end it seems that no amount of effort would have been good enough. The Obama administration has taken a pass on Keystone XL, and Montana stands to be one of the big losers.
A stunning disappointment
One of the reasons that the White House rejected Keystone XL was because it was not considered in the “national interest” of the Unites States. With unemployment at 8.5 percent, how can a project that will bring an estimated 130,000 jobs not be in the national interests of the American economy? In addition to the initial 13,000 manufacturing and construction jobs, another 118,000 would be jobs produced indirectly by the Keystone pipeline, according to an economic study. These jobs would be the additional hires required at hotels, restaurants and other local businesses as a result of the increase in business activity that would be created by the pipeline workers.
Perhaps even more important are the jobs that would be created in refineries across the United States. By refining more of the oil to meet America’s energy needs in America, Keystone will provide a major boost to our domestic economy.
A superior ally
Jobs and economic opportunity are far from the only things that the progress of the Keystone XL pipeline would have provided to the American economy.
One presidential administration after the next has vowed to move America away from its dependence on the Middle East to meet our energy need. The Keystone XL pipeline presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. The pipeline would move over 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day into the United States to be refined, a move that would shift a portion of American imports from abroad and closer to our borders, lowering costs and providing stability to U.S. energy prices.
Ninty percent of the world's known oil reserves outside of OPEC countries are located in Canada. America accounts for 25 percent of the world's energy consumption, yet only produces 5 percent. America still needs to import oil, and ensuring a cooperative energy relationship with Canada will only benefit the US economy. Frankly, Keystone XL is the only option available if America is to continue to seeking independence from corrupt state controlled oil regimes.
Going ... going ... gone!
There’s no doubt that Keystone XL Pipeline is exactly the shot in the arm that our economy needs. However, while President Obama and our congressional leaders decide whether they want to risk upsetting their environmentalist friends, this opportunity might be gone for good. You can be sure there are plenty of other nations, like China, who would love to import Canada’s oil, and Canada’s leadership has expressed interest in selling it to them if the U.S. doesn’t want it.
Not only does Keystone XL represent a direct rejection of a job-creating project, it also sends a negative message through the rest of the economy. How many times can we expect a company to spend millions of dollars and years of time seeking approval for a project, only to be sent back to square one, even after they had met all the bureaucratic requirements?
With leadership like this from the White House, maybe it’s no wonder that unemployment remains stuck where it is.
(Rep. Austin Knudsen is a Republican from Culbertson, and represents House District 36. He serves on the House Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications Committee, House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee and House Taxation Committee.)