By Former Rep. J.C. Watts, Jr.
President Obama recently got a look at what his failed energy policies are doing to America and I hope he fully appreciates that he does have the power to change things for the better. His recent tour of Cushing, Oklahoma, while a trip planned with political considerations first and jobs other than his own a distant second, should have given him a clear perspective of how important the Keystone XL Pipeline is to America.
Cushing, Oklahoma, which proudly proclaims itself the Pipeline Crossroads of The World, is sitting on a glut of oil because it lacks the pipelines to move it to the refineries. The town’s oil tank farm can store about 46 million barrels of oil; that’s enough oil to fill the tanks fully of half the cars on the road in the U.S. It’s ironic that Cushing can fill half the cars since President Obama is promising to support only half of the Keystone pipeline.
We didn’t go halfway to the moon. Lewis and Clark didn’t go halfway across the country. Thomas Edison didn’t develop half a light bulb. And yet, President Obama believes that half a pipeline will somehow reduce our dependence on oil from foreign governments, some of which do not have our best interests at heart.
The entire Keystone XL Pipeline was on track until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority and claimed the State Department’s analysis was faulty because it didn’t consider oil spill response plans, safety issues and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite approvals from states along the pipeline’s route, including my home state of Oklahoma, radical environmentalists began a massive campaign to pressure the White House to pick the EPA’s ruling over the State Department’s analysis.
House and Senate Republicans should demand answers from the EPA and get to the bottom of the agency’s relationship with radical environmental groups, which claim the project will destroy the environment. What those groups fail to recognize is we can both protect the environment and create jobs.
An independent study estimated that the Keystone XL Pipeline would contribute more than $585 million in state and local taxes to states along the route; more than $20 billion in new spending for the U.S. economy; and significantly reduce our dependence on the Middle East and elsewhere for oil. But the environmentalists argued the pipeline would pollute air and water supplies and harm migratory birds and other wildlife. Unfortunately for the tens of thousands of Americans who could have good-paying jobs from the Keystone XL Pipeline, migratory birds won out.
It is clear to even a casual observer that this year’s election is the Jobs Election. Voters, who have more information available to them than in any other election cycle thanks to the Internet, will very carefully scrutinize candidates’ records on what they have done to create jobs — not just what candidates have said about creating jobs.
Mr. President, your support for half a pipeline is half-baked nonsense. I truly hope you override your regulatory-happy EPA and put the full support of the White House behind the Keystone Pipeline so that we, as the most prosperous nation in the world, can develop our own natural resources. That would be a true economic stimulus and something a politician could really hang his hat on.
Former Rep. Watts, Jr (R-Okla.) now serves as the chairman of Watts Partners, a bipartisan government affairs firm which advises and represents a wide range of energy companies.
- Keystone XL Pipeline Seen Moving Ahead on Alternative Route (energyindependenceforstates.com)
- Do you support the Keystone XL pipeline? (cbc.ca)
- President Obama Promises Fast Track for Keystone XL’s Southern Leg (TRP) (247wallst.com)
- Obama to fast track southern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- Keystone XL Act II (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Only the Left and Right Are Shocked: (brothersjuddblog.com)
- Claims Keystone XL pipeline will destroy Oklahoma historical sites is disputed (newsok.com)
- Obama Heading To Oklahoma To Fast-Track Southern Leg Of Keystone XL (thinkprogress.org)
- Obama touts energy strategy, support for southern portion of Keystone XL pipeline (newsok.com)