Posted February 12, 2015
In a democratic republic like ours, the legislative branch is the voice of the people. Throughout the long – too long – debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House has used politics to stymie a conclusion on the matter. But no more.
House approval of a Senate bill advancing the pipeline will require President Obama to finally decide. Bipartisan majorities in both houses of the Congress of the United States have spoken. The American people, through their elected representatives, have spoken. The president should listen.
Unfortunately, the White House has signaled that he won’t, that he will veto the Keystone XL bill. It would make a mockery of post-Election 2014 assurances from the president that he would work with Congress to accomplish substantive things for the American people. Substantive things like:
- 42,100 jobs that the U.S. State Department says would be supported by the pipeline’s construction
- $2 billion in workers’ pockets and $3.4 billion added to U.S. GDP, according to State’s report
- 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region – North American oil that would strengthen U.S. energy security
All of the above and more clearly make the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the national interest.
The American people get these points. They grasp the Keystone XL’s importance in the overall U.S. energy picture, as well as its significance as a piece of shovel-ready, large-scale infrastructure – the kind the president frequently talks about as a high national priority.
That’s why polls have consistently shown that American voters by large margins support building the Keystone XL. A post-election night poll by Harris found 72 percent want the pipeline built, with just 19 percent opposed. A Fox News poll found 65 percent want President Obama to sign the legislation that’s headed his way; just 22 percent say he should veto it.
These are slam-dunk numbers, the kind elected leaders typically respect. The president, however, appears poised to listen to the 19 percent and 22 percent, respectively. If he vetoes this bipartisan Keystone XL legislation, President Obama will be the obstructionist. He will be the one saying no to jobs – a good number of them coveted by the working men and women who have been part of his election campaign constituency. He will be saying no to economic stimulus. His calls for infrastructure investment will be hollow.
He doesn’t have to be that guy. The president can say yes to an infrastructure project that would be good for America and Americans. He can listen to the people on this one. He should. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“Democrats and Republicans in the House have now joined their colleagues in the Senate to approve this pipeline. The American people want the 42,000 jobs this pipeline would create. This bipartisan effort shows that Congress is listening to their constituents. We continue to urge the president to reconsider his veto threat, support the will of the people and prove that Washington can govern and enact meaningful energy policy.”
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.