- - Monday, November 9, 2015

President Obama took to the microphone Friday to deliver a death blow to the Keystone XL Pipeline project, ironically on the same day the most recent job numbers were released — demonstrating zero growth in the manufacturing industry.

With empty environmental rhetoric and predictable “dirty fuel” platitudes, Mr.  Obama’s speech offered a weak defense for killing this job-creating project seven years in the making.

First, let’s take a look at the facts. According to the TransCanada website, the pipeline would have the capacity to transport up to 830,000 barrels a day to refineries in both the Midwest and the Gulf Coast. By the State Department’s own admission, the pipeline represents the promise of 42,000 jobs — both direct and indirect. In 2013, it even released a “Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement” that said “there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route.”

For a president whose only legacy thus far has been promoting disastrous policy — both domestically (Obamacare, anyone?) and in foreign affairs (how about the Iran nuclear deal?) — here was an opportunity to create a lasting legacy of jobs, economic growth and energy independence. Yet what we witnessed in the press conference was the most recent example of how “climate change” concerns now trump solid policy decisions.

This was a classic case of liberal hypocrisy. Quoting Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion that the project “would not serve the national interests of the United States,” the president then outlined his reasons for supporting Mr. Kerry’s assessment. He stated it would not make a meaningful contribution to our economy, suggesting that if Congress wanted to create jobs, federal lawmakers should pass legislation to do so. He also claimed that the pipeline would not create energy independence for the nation, and insinuated that it wasn’t necessary as gas prices are already low.

These assertions demonstrate both flawed economic logic and a fundamental mischaracterization of crude market trends over time. Any Texan over the age of reason can tell you that oil prices will rise and oil prices will fall. Many factors contribute to this — not the least of which are alternative exploration (i.e. fracking) or events in the Middle East. But for me, the most troubling aspect of his reasoning is the willingness to throw away a private sector/manufacturing-employer/bird-in-the-hand, while expecting Congress to drive the job-creation train via legislation.

The rest of his brief press conference was devoted to his perceived environmental achievements, as he again demanded that America “must transition to a clean energy economy.” Of course, the clean energy “investments” referred to by the president often equate to subsidies, putting the government in direct competition with private enterprise rather than promoting market-based solutions to our energy needs.

Concluding with a reference to our nation as a global leader on climate change, he declared that the Keystone pipeline would “undercut” this position.

This project has been subjected to intense regulatory scrutiny every step of the way. So why the decision now? Is it a coincidence that pipeline promoters had just days ago asked to put their application on hold, presumably in hopes of holding out for a new administration which might be more favorable to the project?

Perhaps the more likely reason for the president’s sudden decision was a move to increase “credibility” for the U.S. at the upcoming climate change meeting in Paris this month.

The real news flash from this announcement is how the Democratic Party has completely launched itself over the cliff of economic reality. With this press conference, the president has symbolically divorced himself from the millions of blue-collar workers in solidly blue states who had once represented a very important component of the Left’s base. Previously courted by Democrat candidates who would advocate for manufacturing projects within their districts, these hard-working Americans have now been left out in the cold by their own party.

Deciding once and for all to put the notion of “saving the planet” over the economic interests of people, Mr. Obama has sent a clear signal that climate change ideology is now the primary concern of his Democratic Party. The real question is, how will the voters respond next November?

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