Thursday, January 19, 2012

Once Again Politics Trumps Progress

President Obama rejected plans for the Keystone pipeline Wednesday proving once again that politics trumps progress. 
The Keystone Pipeline project is a system designed to transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada to multiple oil refineries in the United States.  The proposed route would take the pipeline through environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.  Opponents site safety and environmental concerns.  Supporters of the project site an estimated 20,000 jobs and a means to lessen the dependence on Middle Eastern oil. 
The President wanted to put off his decision on the pipeline until 2013; conveniently after securing a second term.  But he was forced to make a decision by February 21st as part of a deal with Republicans to extend the payroll tax cut.  The project was set to move forward unless the President himself declared it was not in the national interest.  His decision generated an instantaneous backlash of criticism.
Newt Gingrich called the decision “stunningly stupid”.  Speaker Boehner accused the President of putting politics before job creation.  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the President that he was disappointed in the decision; and later announced that Canada would shift to building the pipeline to its west coast where it could sell and ship oil to China and other Asian markets.
The President responded stating: “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.  I’m disappointed that Republicans in congress forced this decision.”
The President’s disingenuous statement is nothing more than partisan politics.  This project did not just fall from the sky last November when it became a political pawn in the payroll tax cut debate.  TransCanada Corporation proposed this project on February 9, 2005.  It was reviewed by the United States Commerce Committee on July 6, 2010.  How long does it take to conduct an economic and environmental study on a small piece of Nebraska real estate? 
The President did not want anything to do with this politically toxic issue until after he was securely seated in the White House for a second term.  He tried to put it off until 2013 “to allow for a thorough review of environmental and safety concerns.”  But the Republicans boxed him into a corner.  In the end the President played to his and chose political expediency over jobs.
When the President campaigned for the White House four years ago he promised to unite the country on controversial issues just like this.  He has had three years to pass a comprehensive energy plan that would include job creating projects just like this. 
He can attempt to shift blame to the Republicans all he wants; but this is on him.              

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