|Keystone XL Pipeline And Jobs — Put Up Or Shut Up Posted 01/13/2012 06:51 PM ET|
Politics: The day after the president announces he would reward businesses that bring jobs into the U.S., the Chamber of Commerce asks: What about the pipeline from Canada that would bring both jobs and energy?
The irony was mind-boggling when President Obama addressed a group of business leaders at the White House last Wednesday on his plans to reward "insourcing."
"There are workers ready to work right now," he told them. "In the next few weeks, I will put forward new tax proposals that reward companies that choose to bring jobs home and invest in America — and eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas. Because there is opportunity to be had right here."
Indeed, there are opportunities right now for companies to bring jobs to the U.S. and workers ready to fill them, as U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue reminded Obama the next day during his "State of American Business 2012" address.
"We can put 20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project," Donohue said. "Labor unions and the business community alike are urging President Obama to act in the best interests of our national security and our workers, and approve the pipeline."
It would be in the president's best political interests as well, helping lower energy prices and creating jobs in an economy struggling to do so. Even a number of unions, a major part of the Democratic base, are backing the project.
They include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Teamsters, the Laborers' International Union, the Building & Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the United Association of Plumbers & Pipe Fitters for the United States & Canada. They want the jobs Keystone XL would bring.
TransCanada wants to bring those jobs plus 700,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil to the U.S.
But another key Democratic constituency — environmentalists — have raised the canard that Keystone XL would endanger the Ogallala Aquifer centered on Nebraska. TransCanada has agreed to a rerouting, but that merely gives the administration an excuse for further review and delay until after the 2012 election.
At a press conference following Donohue's address, Bruce Josten, chamber vice president of government affairs, noted that Keystone XL had already cleared an extensive three-year review and that only presidential politics stood in the way. "I think we've already stated this was a political decision," Josten said. "This is obviously not an environmental or economic decision."
As for risks to the Ogallala Aquifer and other states along the route, 50,000 existing miles of pipeline already crisscross America. The technology is neither new nor unsafe. One is the Keystone 1 pipeline, which already carries crude from the oil sands.
Josten, noting Obama's proposal to reward businesses that bring jobs to the U.S., said: "The president missed the biggest insourcing opportunity yesterday, and it's called the Keystone Pipeline."
Indeed, the gathering of business leaders at the White House would have been the perfect opportunity to give the green light to what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has rightly called the biggest shovel-ready project ever.
"If this episode tells us anything," McConnell has said, "it's that the president is clearly more concerned about getting himself re-elected than getting somebody in Nebraska or Kansas or South Dakota or Missouri a job today."
The president's inaction and hypocrisy on jobs will have consequences. "I'll tell you what the Canadians are going to do about it," said Donahue. "If they put a long-term delay on (the pipeline), they're going to build a pipeline to the West and sell that oil to the Chinese."
If the president passes on this opportunity to create jobs, he should lose his in November.