Yesterday in Walt Disney World, the land “where dreams come true,” President Barack Obama appeared before Cinderella’s Castle to announce his latest plan to boost jobs in America–an effort to increase tourism to the United States. His announcement came one day after he flat out said “NO” to another plan that would have directly created at least 20,000 truly shovel-ready jobs–and 179,000 American jobs by 2035–while bringing more than 700,000 barrels of oil to the United States each day. That plan was the Keystone XL pipeline.
Had the President approved Keystone, a 1,700-mile pipeline would have been extended from Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries — lifting up the U.S. economy with private-sector investment, putting people to work, and helping increase the supply of energy to lower prices when fuel costs are through the roof. Despite a finding by the State Department that the pipeline would pose minimal environmental risk, environmentalists were still up in arms and lobbied the President to say no to the plan.
The President’s decision is so out of line with fact and reason that The Washington Post strongly condemned it in an op-ed yesterday, saying the “pipeline rejection is hard to accept” and “We almost hope this was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question.” As the Post explained, even without the pipeline, Canada will still export its oil–but across the ocean to China, instead. Meanwhile, the United States will continue importing crude oil from the Middle East. In other words, the environmental lobby might have stanched the flow of oil from Canada, but it’s being diverted onto the seas, and fossil fuel consumption will necessarily continue.
The environmental left’s “victory” is ultimately another loss for the American people — especially the 13.1 million unemployed workers. It’s a loss for small businesses, such as restaurants and hotels, in the towns along the proposed route. It’s a loss for state budgets that would have seen billions in tax revenue as a result. And it’s also a loss for those who are struggling with high energy costs.
Gas prices are at a record high for January and are 28.5 cents per gallon higher than a year ago. And that’s expected to go even higher–some analysts predict that the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded could hit $4 to $4.25 per gallon by the spring.
One might think that given the high cost of energy, the President would be seeking to increase domestic production, especially given Iran’s threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, thereby cutting off a quarter of the world’s energy supply. Think again. Under President Obama, oil and natural gas production on federal lands is down by more than 40 percent compared to 10 years ago, 2010 had the lowest number of leases issued for oil and gas production on federal lands since 1984, and the Administration held only one offshore lease sale in 2011.
There is one bright spot in the nation for energy production: North Dakota. Overall energy production has increased thanks to the state’s pro-energy policies, and North Dakota has reaped the benefits, as have other like-minded states, as Heritage’s Rob Bluey reports:
North Dakota’s unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, the lowest in the country. According to a recent report from IHS Global Insight, North Dakota already returned to pre-recession employment along with energy-rich Alaska. Texas is expected to do so in the first quarter of 2012, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota next year.
There’s much more that could be done, though, to move America further toward safely developing energy resources here at home–and the Keystone XL pipeline would be one such step. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to review legislation that would restart the project, focusing on a bill introduced by Representative Lee Terry (R-NE), which would allow construction on the pipeline to begin a month after passage. Heritage’s Nicolas Loris explains that “a simple, effective approach would be for Congress to authorize the pipeline application as submitted by TransCanada pursuant to its authority to regulate commerce with other nations.”
Sadly, this action wouldn’t have been necessary if President Obama put the interests of the American people before his own political interests. He could have green-lighted the Keystone XL pipeline this week and helped create real jobs and increase the supply of affordable, reliable energy, without spending public dollars or advocating tax hikes. But instead he headed for the Magic Kingdom and continued to spin the fantasy that he has the answers for job creation in America. In the meantime, Americans can only dream of a stronger economy and a brighter future.