EDITORIAL: A pipeline to prosperity

The president must quit stalling on signing up Keystone

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Too bad that “Keystone” isn’t a solar field or a wind farm in the Mojave Desert. If it were, the White House could boast of the wealth and jobs such a project would create. But Keystone XL Pipeline is more than a fantasy. It would be a privately constructed pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada’s Alberta province to the Texas Gulf Coast, and its prospects are real.

To please his liberal base, President Obama downplays the pipeline, scoffing that the jobs it would create are but a “blip” against the nation’s needs. “They keep on talking about this,” he says, “an oil pipeline coming down from Canada that’s estimated to create about 50 permanent jobs. That’s not a jobs plan.” That’s easy for a man with a good job and luxurious digs in public housing to say.

The 800-mile Alaskan Pipeline, far less ambitious than Keystone, provides insight into the jobs formula. The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which maintains the pipeline, employs 811 men and women. An additional 1,200 contractors work to keep the oil flowing. The construction of the pipeline in 1977 was a major engineering feat, spawning a “second gold rush” that put 70,000 people to work.

Building the 1,700 mile-long Keystone Pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico would require 120,000 construction workers and support staff. Once built, thousands would enjoy good-paying, blue-collar jobs to keep it running. That’s why the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the Teamsters, the Electrical Workers and the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Welders enthusiastically support the project.

The State Department, which has been low-balling the numbers, finally admitted in March that “the proposed Project would potentially support approximately 42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a one- to two-year construction period. This employment would potentially translate to approximately $2.05 billion in earnings.”

The president acknowledged during the campaign the hardships of construction workers. “Of all the industries hammered by the economic downturn, construction has been among the hardest hit,” Mr. Obama said. He has changed his tune; he will only approve the project if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

Instead of enabling the private sector to build and operate this job-creating enterprise at no cost to the American people, Mr. Obama has dispensed taxpayer cash into trendy companies that call themselves green. Even if Keystone created only 50 permanent jobs that would be far more than Abound Solar, A123, Beacon Power, Ener1, Fisker and Solyndra, the green companies that were to lead the way to prosperity, created with billions in taxpayer subsidies.

Mr. Obama should face facts, however some of them may hurt. His green-energy loan program employed only bankruptcy lawyers. The Keystone XL Pipeline could help everyone else.

The Washington Times

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