Add Ken Salazar to the list of environmentally concerned and Administration-connected Democrats who support building the Keystone XL pipeline.
The former Secretary of the Interior remarked last week that he supports the project, which would create American jobs and increase economic activity in the communities supporting construction. He called it a “win-win” and noted that “at the end of the day, we’re going to be consuming that oil.”
These comments put Salazar in the same league as AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, both of whom have also made statements that support the building of the pipeline.
Trumka has long favored building Keystone. In remarks from a May 2012 interview with C-SPAN, he said, “I think we [unions] are all unanimous by saying we should build the pipeline.” Last month, he voiced even stronger support remarking, “There’s no environmental reason that [the pipeline] can’t be done safely while at the same time creating jobs.”
Supportive of the pipeline while in his post as Secretary of Energy, Chu has been more blunt about the decision-making process behind Keystone, saying just last week that “the decision on whether the construction should happen was a political one and not a scientific one.”
With the conclusion of the State Department’s final environmental impact study again showing no negative environmental consequences, President Obama cannot continue to delay on the grounds of environmental safety. The President has instead attempted to downplay the number of temporary construction jobs the pipeline will create, as if tens of thousands of jobs were insignificant.
Ironically, whereas the President has lobbied hard for Congress to extend unemployment benefits and provide temporary relief to some individuals, he has treated dismissively the some 42,000 permanent and temporary construction jobs that could be created in this multi-year project by the private sector, without tax dollars.
Salazar was not the first—and will likely not be the last—high-ranking Democrat to break with the President on Keystone. As the public becomes increasingly aware of the politicization of the issue and the power being given to environmental extremists, President Obama’s position will get harder and harder to defend. The Washington Post editorial board put it best: “It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics and resolve this bizarre distraction of an issue.”
Mallory Carr is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.