SOTU Watch: What’s the President Waiting for on Keystone’s Jobs?

January 27, 2014

Over the weekend, Senior White House Advisor Dan Pfeiffer previewed President Obama’s State of the Union remarks, stating the president Tuesday will “lay out a set of real, concrete proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join in it. In this year of action, the president will seek out as many opportunities as possible to work with Congress in a bipartisan way. But when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress.”

Despite the urgent declarations for “action,” the president remains silent on the Keystone XL pipeline, a shovel-ready project that could propel the creation of thousands of American jobs and economic growth. The president has delayed action on this job project for years, bucking bipartisan support for the project among Congress and the American people. It has now been over five years since the pipeline application was submitted, and frustration is growing over the president’s inaction, but Reuters reports, “Sources inside and outside the administration said they did not expect Obama to discuss the project in his Tuesday speech.”  

Last week, the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, known as the Gulf Coast Project, opened operations and began carrying oil from Oklahoma to coastal refineries. In March 2012, the president actually endorsed this leg, citing support for an “all-of-the above” energy strategy. But President Obama has failed to follow through on his commitment to American energy and jobs, blocking the pipeline and coming up with further excuses to delay the northern route. The Beaumont Enterprise editorialized over the weekend, “Approval for that segment has been lagging for months, and Secretary of State John Kerry even said recently that the administration was in no hurry to OK it. … The president should stop playing politics and let this resource flow all the way from Canada to the Gulf Coast.” Fed up with the president’s delays, the House passed H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, to allow this job-creating pipeline to proceed.

Pfeiffer’s SOTU preview continued, “President Obama has a pen and he has a phone, and he will use them to take executive action and enlist every American -- business owners and workers, mayors and state legislators, young people, veterans, and folks in communities from across the country -- in the project to restore opportunity for all.” American workers have been clamoring for this pipeline for years. It’s time for the president to say “yes” to jobs, put his pen to work, and approve Keystone XL.