The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Choosing Process Over Merit on Keystone XL

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 26, 2015

By continuing to delay the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama continues to elevate politics over the pipeline’s merits and symbolism over acting in the U.S. national interest.

Instead of giving the go-ahead to a project that would create good, middle-class jobs, boost the national economy and strengthen America’s energy security, the president talks about preserving processes and procedures. That’s not leadership for the entire country; that’s once again giving in to Washington politics. Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions:

“He had the chance to sign a bill into law that supported American jobs. Instead, he chose to place politics ahead of the economic interests of American workers and deprive thousands of men and women desperate for good-paying jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline would have created tens of thousands of jobs. It saddens our unions that a president who has sworn to fight for America’s workers has failed them.”

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, to the Washington Times:

“Given that the administration has done everything it can to delay and block the creation of good construction careers on the Keystone XL pipeline, the veto can be described with two words — disgustingly predictable.”

Predictable, because for more than six years now, the administration has refused to engage Keystone XL on the facts, on its merits – which should be the basis for the president’s sole, specific decision on the $5.4 billion, privately financed project: whether building and operating Keystone XL is in the national interest. Instead, the president turned the pipeline into a political piñata for those interested in wielding power, as opposed to providing real power.

On the merits, the case for Keystone XL is crystal clear:

  • 42,100 well-paying jobs that the U.S. State Department says would be supported by the pipeline’s construction
  • $2 billion into the pockets of workers – many of them represented by the organizations headed by McGarvey and O’Sullivan
  • $3.4 billion added to U.S. GDP, according to State
  • 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region – energy from North America that would make America more secure


The American people want Keystone XL built – 72 percent in a recent poll. A bipartisan majority in Congress voted to advance the pipeline, for all of the reasons noted above and more – including the State Department’s repeated findings that the pipeline, its operations and the oil sands from Canada it would bring wouldn’t significantly affect the environment.

These are the facts, the merits, which the president stiff arms by heaping delay upon delay – in the name of processes. The president talks about the need for “thorough consideration” of Keystone XL, but on the merits the relevant questions were settled long ago. Keystone is in its 77th month of consideration – a political warping of a process that historically has taken 18 to 24 months. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“… the facts and the science back approval of this pipeline. We agree with his commentary on bipartisan cooperation and the need to move forward on critical infrastructure projects, and the importance of securing an American economy that supports the middle class. But instead of saying yes to 42,000 good paying jobs and enhanced North American energy security, this veto proved once again that it’s politics as usual here in Washington.”

Politics as usual isn’t good enough, Mr. President. Not for the energy infrastructure investment, the jobs and the energy this country needs.

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.