It took President Barack Obama only 2,604 days to reject the permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline.
In a statement today, Obama said the pipeline “would not serve the national interest of the United States.”
“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” Obama added. “And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”
Former Obama administration Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu hit the nail on the head: “The decision on whether the construction should happen was a political one and not a scientific one.”
Here are the top nine reasons Obama is wrong on Keystone XL.
- Jobs and economic growth. Opponents will minimize the job numbers, saying that the pipeline will create only “a handful” of permanent jobs—and that’s correct. In his speech Obama said, “So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it.” But here’s what that argument misses: the tens of thousands of construction jobs that the pipeline project will create. In fact, simply building the southern portion—which didn’t need Obama’s approval—has already created 4,000 construction jobs. And if opponents are dismissive of Keystone XL, they should be dismissive of all construction projects, as they’re all temporary—because they’re construction jobs. Further, Keystone XL would add economic value, transport an important energy resource efficiently, and result in billions of dollars of tax revenue for states it runs through.
- Stable supply of oil from an important trading partner that will lower gas prices. The pipeline would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, where U.S. refineries are already equipped to handle heavier crudes. The pipeline will efficiently provide supply from a secure source and a friendly and important trading partner. Contra Obama’s claim today that “the pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers,” increased oil supplies will lower gas prices, though the impact may be small.
- Safest mode of getting oil and gas to Americans. Many in the United States live near a pipeline without even knowing about it. America has more than 500,000 miles of crude oil, petroleum, and natural gas pipelines and another 2 million miles of natural gas distribution pipelines. When it comes to accidents, injuries, and fatalities, pipelines are the safest mode of transporting oil and gas.
- Should be a business decision, not a government one. In concluding with Secretary of State John Kerry’s assessment that the project would not be in the national interest, Obama said, “The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.” It is not the role of the federal government to make that determination. The federal government shouldn’t make that determination with the construction of a new restaurant or boutique shop. And it shouldn’t make that determination with a pipeline. After the State Department concluded that the pipeline was environmentally safe, the decision to build Keystone XL should have been a business decision—not a government one.
- We’ve done this before. The Keystone XL Pipeline is just a portion of the larger Keystone Pipeline System. You can view a map of the entire system here. Unbeknownst to many is the fact that the U.S. has already granted one of those presidential permits for the Keystone Pipeline System. For phase I of the Keystone Pipeline System, TransCanada filed an application with the Department of State (DOS) in April 2006, and the department began an environmental review in September 2006. TransCanada received its presidential permit for phase I in March 2008. From beginning to end, the process took 23 months. It has taken 86 months for Obama to say no.
- Environmentally safe. It was Albert Einstein who said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The State Department must be teetering on the edge of insanity, because after multiple environmental reviews concluding that Keystone XL poses minimal environmental risk to soil, wetlands, water resources, vegetation, fish, and wildlife, the Obama administration still rejected the permit application.
- Negligible climate impact. In a speech in June 2013, Obama said the climate effects of Keystone XL would have a major impact on the administration’s decision. These effects, however, would be minimal. The State Department’s final environmental impact statement concludes that the Canadian oil is coming out of the ground whether Keystone XL is built or not, so the difference in greenhouse gas emissions is minuscule. No matter your position on climate change, Keystone XL won’t make a difference.
- Can be built without the help of the taxpayer. Building and operating Keystone XL will result in real private-sector jobs that will grow the U.S. economy. This is very different from the president’s taxpayer-funded green jobs plan that merely siphons resources out of the market and forces pricier energy on the American public.
- The people want it. Lots of people want it. A CNN poll in the beginning of the year found that 57 percent of Americans support the project, while just 28 percent oppose it. Many unions want it. Former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar called the project a “win-win.” Congress sent a bill to Obama’s desk, demonstrating their will to approve the project. Sadly, the Obama administration is catering to the small group of radical environmental activists who don’t want the pipeline.
Last April, the Washington Post slammed the Obama administration’s continued delay of a Keystone XL decision, calling it “absurd” and “embarrassing.” Rejecting the permit application is even more absurd and more embarrassing.