Pipeline politics hurt U.S. jobs

Washington, D.C., has once again decided to put the short-term jobs of politicians ahead of the long-term needs of U.S. workers.

The latest bit of evidence comes from the State Department’s decision to stop progress on the Keystone XL pipeline – one of the most important updates to America’s energy infrastructure in decades.

Here’s what happened yesterday: The State Department announced that it wants to explore a new route for the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline. This just happens to push the deadline for final approval of the pipeline beyond the 2012 election.

This disappointing decision comes after energy producers, consumer groups, and organized labor worked with all levels of government for more than three years.

  • Since 2008, the government and industry have held more than 100 open houses and public meetings in six states and Washington, D.C.
  • The government and industry have also gathered thousands of pages of supplemental information and responded to questions submitted by state and federal agencies.
  • In the end, the State Department studied 14 different routes and issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), a supplemental draft EIS, and a final EIS that totaled more than 10,000 pages. The entire review process to date has generated more than 300,000 comments from the public.

After all this work, the State Department’s own findings indicated that the pipeline would pose no undue risks to people or the environment – neither by the type of crude it would be carrying, nor by the safety of the pipeline itself.

The decision to delay this project may please some activists, but it will be the American people who will ultimately pay.

Here’s the cost in terms of jobs:

  • The construction and manufacturing of the more than 1,600-mile-long pipeline would create an estimated 20,000 new jobs.
  • Local businesses along the pipeline route would benefit from an estimated 118,000 spin-off jobs.
  • Finally, such analysis does not include the benefits flowing to our economy from the reliable, affordable energy that would be brought from our neighbor to the north.

Keystone XL is important for our economic growth because it would tie us more closely with our No. 1 energy trading partner in Canada. It would help diversify America’s energy sources, giving our economy flexibility as the world’s demand for energy rises.

No one would deny that the U.S. economy faces significant challenges. One of the most important ways we can revive our economy and create more jobs is to update our energy infrastructure to bring reliable, affordable energy to U.S. industry and consumers.

The decision to push back the timeline for the Keystone XL pipeline does nothing to help us achieve this goal, much less the president’s stated goal to look to neighbors like Canada for “stable and steady and reliable sources” of energy.