State of the Union Preview: A First Step to Rebuilding the Middle Class… Building the Keystone XL Pipeline

February 12, 2013

1,607 Days and Counting: It’s #TimeToBuild the Keystone XL Pipeline

According to the New York Times, President Obama on Tuesday evening is expected to focus his State of the Union address “around restoring economic prosperity to the middle class.” As part of his plan to restore a “thriving middle class,” he reportedly will call for new infrastructure projects to help create jobs and boost our economy. The Keystone XL pipeline is a shovel-ready project that would jumpstart the U.S. economy, but will President Obama finally embrace the middle class jobs project?

With recent incidents of terrorism and unrest across the globe threatening energy prices, and negative economic growth and stubbornly high unemployment here at home, the Keystone XL pipeline would seemingly be a blessing and welcome component in any effort to rebuild the middle class.

It is a $7 billion private sector infrastructure project, not involving additional government spending, that will create an estimated 20,000 direct and over 100,000 indirect jobs during the life of its operation, delivering reliable energy from our northern ally to our lower 48. The Keystone XL pipeline would bring nearly a million additional barrels of North American oil per day to U.S. refineries, helping to lessen our dependence on oil from unstable sources and providing greater protection from supply disruptions which could lead to higher gas prices.

President Obama has a historic opportunity to approve this important jobs and energy project, which could play a key role in rebuilding the middle class. Yet, rather than issue the necessary permits to build the pipeline, the administration has allowed the project to languish for over four years. In fact, it has now been 1,607 days since TransCanada first submitted its application to construct Keystone XL to the State Department.

The president is running out of excuses not to build Keystone. The pipeline has been through an exhaustive environmental review and Nebraska’s governor has now endorsed the revised route. And if we don’t take Canada’s oil, China will. In a February 10, 2013, column in the Washington Post, former Obama economic adviser and Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers outlined an agenda for growth, which called for approval of the pipeline citing economic and environmental benefits. Summers stated, “Those who will decide whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run between the tar sands of western Canada and Nebraska, need to recognize that Canadian oil not flowing to the United States will probably flow to Asia, where it will be burned with fewer environmental protections.” The president would be well served to follow the counsel of his former adviser.

In his last State of the Union address, President Obama talked about the need for more jobs and infrastructure projects, but he stayed conspicuously silent about Keystone during his remarks to the nation. It’s time for the president to act. It’s #TimeToBuild the Keystone XL pipeline.