- - Thursday, January 3, 2013

The time has come for President Obama to do the right thing and authorize the Keystone XL pipeline. Though he squandered two previous opportunities to do so, which would have created thousands of jobs and increased domestic oil supply, the president has a second chance to be redeemed. He should take it.

In his first term, his administration pandered to environmental groups by denying the Canadian government’s application to build the northern half of the pipeline from Canada to Nebraska even though it already had been under review for three years. The decision was not only irresponsible, it was nonsensical.

At a time when jobs and the economy were, as they still are, in the forefront of each American’s mind, the president turned down an opportunity that would have created upward of 20,000 new jobs in the energy and manufacturing industries.

At a time when unrest in the Middle East disrupted global oil supply, the president declined a pipeline that would have prevented the United States from spending $70 million per day to purchase oil from this volatile region.


At a time when cash-strapped states were struggling through an anemic economic recovery, the president wrote off $585 million in potential state and local tax revenue the pipeline would have generated.

None of this makes sense.

Yet in the weeks ahead, opposition groups will continue to pressure the president to reject the Keystone XL pipeline on environmental grounds. They will press forward with their misinformation campaign, despite the fact that transporting oil by way of pipelines produces fewer carbon emissions than transporting it by truck, rail or oceangoing tankers sent overseas. Even the State Department’s environmental analysis of the Keystone pipeline noted failure to build the pipeline could result in greater emissions.

It should be noted that in the time it has taken Mr. Obama to ponder the pipeline’s construction, American taxpayers have spent more than $24 billion to purchase oil from hostile regions of the world instead of our friendly neighbor to the north.

Besides, all of this opposition ignores the fact that a pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the world market will be built regardless — it’s only a matter of where. The question is whether Mr. Obama will allow it to come to the United States or will passively step aside and allow it to be built out to Canada’s west coast, where it will be exported via tanker to energy-hungry China.

Earlier this year, the American Energy Alliance released a survey that found 79 percent of Americans support construction of the Keystone pipeline. They recognize that the pipeline will bring new, well-paying jobs and a much-needed injection into our domestic economy. They also recognize it would be foolish to turn away 830,000 barrels of oil a day from a close and trusted ally when the alternative is to continue purchasing it from the Middle East.

In his re-election speech, Mr. Obama assured all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, that he was listening to them. If that is the case, he should listen to the majority of Americans, who want new jobs, energy independence and reliable supplies of affordable fuel. He also should accept that after almost four years of research and environmental study on the pipeline, it’s time to make a decision.

A bipartisan group of 18 senators recently wrote a letter to the president, calling on him to set politics aside and issue a permit for the Keystone pipeline. In it, the senators summed up the situation well, writing, “Nothing has changed about the need for America to remain a place where businesses can still build things.” This should prompt serious reflection on the president’s part, especially considering that Americans already have suffered the consequences of his indecisiveness.

Charles Drevna is president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.