Time to move forward with Keystone XL
By Congressman Peter Roskam
In his fifth State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged that 2014 will be a “year of action.” Through “pen and phone,” he vowed to sidestep Congress and advance policies to create jobs for Americans struggling to find work in a tough economy. But after five and a half years, the Keystone XL pipeline – which would create thousands of American jobs and boost our weak economy – is still gathering dust on the president’s desk.
All this time, President Obama has delayed the construction of the pipeline by claiming it would accelerate climate change. Recently, the president’s own State Department rejected that argument when they released their final Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that building the Keystone pipeline will have no significant effect on the climate. The comprehensive 11-volume report went further to say that if the pipeline isn’t built, oil will be transferred by much more environmentally risky means – train, tanker or rail – resulting in up to 41.8 percent more greenhouse gas emissions, demonstrating that President Obama’s opposition has far more to do with politics than any facts about the pipeline. Just last week, critics of the pipeline were also quieted when the State Department Inspector General for the second time in as many years cleared the department and the contractor of conflict-of-interest allegations.
The State Department’s report confirms that Keystone would create tens of thousands of jobs and move America closer to energy independence, making Keystone a win-win policy. An overwhelming percentage of Americans are in favor of building the pipeline, and support for the project is strong among the governors whose states the pipeline will go through. In Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Democrat-led Senate voted to approve the project. Even some of President Obama’s top allies like labor unions are in favor of building Keystone, calling for the expansion of America’s entire pipeline system.
Right here in Illinois, manufacturers are strongly encouraging the approval of the pipeline. Steve Romanelli, owner of Core Pipe in Carol Stream supports the construction of Keystone not just because of the obvious benefits of having a more secure and reliable source of energy, but because of the role energy plays in our manufacturing workforce. Steve and many others believe that with approval of Keystone, the U.S. could see a manufacturing resurgence, because as Steve puts it, “the life blood of manufacturers is energy.”
Shockingly, the president is still using every possible stall tactic to delay the pipeline’s approval. Fears are growing that he will even use a Nebraska court case over the pipeline’s route as his next excuse. The State Department already concluded five separate Environmental Impact Studies and several public comment periods, and yet the Administration is still asking for more studies from the EPA and the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security and the Interior. Even then, the president has indicated he will leave the final decision on Keystone to his Secretary of State, John Kerry.
It is clear that when President Obama said he will lead this “year of action” he just plans to continue with more of the same. Keystone represents job creation, affordable energy and economic opportunity, yet the president continues to delay its construction after more than five years in the face of a wealth of data that shows building it will be good for our economy. This is unacceptable – our labor participation rate is the lowest it’s been in over 30 years, take home pay is dwindling and upward mobility has stalled. Families are struggling from a stagnant economy, and this project represents a concrete step forward. The president must not delay another day on approving the Keystone XL pipeline that will create good-paying jobs at home and unleash our energy potential.