Posted April 24, 2014
Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline. A new Harris Poll shows that by nearly a 4-to-1 margin Americans agree the pipeline is in the national interest. By continuing to put off a decision on Keystone XL, the Obama administration is casting its lot with the 1. On this issue, a lonely number indeed. API’s Cindy Schild, during a conference call with reporters:
“Friday’s announcement by the administration seems to dismiss not only congressional support but American support as well. President Obama and his advisers have apparently determined to put their political interests over the national interest and side with a small group of activists led by a billionaire instead of the labor community and the vast majority of ordinary Americans, regardless of harm to the middle class.”
For all the talk from this administration about building up the middle class, its lack of action on Keystone XL is hurting middle-class Americans. Many of them could earn good money building the pipeline and manufacturing materials for the project. Many others could see their incomes and lives made better, lifted by the broader economic wave that a $5.3 billion infrastructure project could provide.
The plight of the American middle class is real and concerning, with recent analysis showing it has fallen behind Canada’s middle class in terms of income. The administration’s decision to play stall ball with the Keystone XL, after more than five years of review and five positive environmental assessments, isn’t helping working Americans, it’s an assault on them. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA):
“It's not the oil that's dirty, it's the politics. Once again, the Administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. This certainly is no example of profiles in courage. It's clear the Administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach. This is another low blow to the working men and women of our country for whom the Keystone XL Pipeline is a lifeline to good jobs and energy security.”
Here’s a LiUNA video, featuring pipeline worker Dom Stokes talking about why Keystone XL is critical for him and his family :
Mr. Stokes is one voice in what poll after poll indicates is a vast American majority for the Keystone XL – a majority the administration is giving the back of its hand. The new Harris Poll of 1,000 registered voters conducted April 16-20, as the latest delay was announced, shows that a strong majority of Americans support the Keystone XL for critical reasons:
- Economic security – 78 percent agree that Keystone XL would help strengthen the U.S. economy by helping to create jobs here at home and keeping energy dollars in North America.
- National interest – 78 percent agree the pipeline would help strengthen America’s national and energy security by increasing supplies of oil from North America rather than other regions of the world.
- Energy security – 67 percent would like to see the U.S. import more of the oil it needs from Canada instead of other overseas sources.
- Global energy strength – 67 percent agree that the Keystone XL will help America become more of an energy power in the world and help U.S. foreign policy initiatives.
The practical effect of the administration’s latest punt on the Keystone XL is to stiff-arm these views and to make a decision – heavily dosed with politics – to side with extremists whose agenda would hinder job creation and economic growth while hamstringing the United States at an historic moment, just as energy self-sufficiency comes into view. The Keystone XL would be an important piece of realizing that long-sought goal. Schild:
“The U.S. has the ability to obtain 100 percent of our liquid fuel supply from stable North American sources within 10 years. Unfortunately, the Obama administration lacks the political will to take the steps necessary to achieve this historic breakthrough. If the White House refuses to heed the analysis of its own State Department and the will of American voters, it’s up to Congress to act on behalf of the American people and approve Keystone XL in the interests of job creation, energy security and national security.”
The politicizing of the Keystone XL project seemingly knows no bounds – and the administration bears a big responsibility for that. Some time ago it surrendered rational policymaking to irrational arguments that wilt and wither when subjected to serious economic and environmental analysis – much of it from the administration’s own State Department. A Washington Post editorial put it this way:
At this point, there is little doubt about the big picture. … The administration’s latest decision is not responsible; it is embarrassing. The United States continues to insult its Canadian allies by holding up what should have been a routine permitting decision amid a funhouse-mirror environmental debate that got way out of hand. The president should end this national psychodrama now …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.