Saturday, September 19, 2015
Billy Long: I won't stop pushing for the Keystone Pipeline
Seven years after TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline formal application was submitted, no progress has been made on its approval. The project was, and is still, prepared to showcase revolutionary technological breakthroughs that are poised to bring about oil and gas booms in U.S. and Canada. Investment in petroleum has already helped make the U.S. the world’s top oil producer. In these troubling economic times, it would provide jobs to American workers who’ve been hardest-hit by the recession — welders, mechanics, pipefitters and others.
But after years of political squabbles, community meetings determining the project to be in America’s best interest, and the Nebraska Supreme Court giving the project a green light, the Obama Administration continues to stall the process. One of the primary conditions for approval was that the project must have a negligible impact on climate change. And despite the State Department’s environmental review showing minimal risk for environmental impact, Keystone XL sits idle.
Meanwhile, Department of Transportation regulators have allowed as many as 6,000 railcars with faulty valves to continue transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials throughout the country for – at least – the rest of the year. And this is in addition to the already six major oil train derailments across North America this year – three of which resulted in major fires and evacuations of populated areas. This should be a red flag to anyone that would argue our environment is more protected by the status quo of transporting oil by rail, rather than building the state of the art Keystone XL pipeline.
The White House claims to support policies for job growth and building infrastructure with little-to-no environmental impact. Yet, one of the first bills sent to the president this year was the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, which the president vetoed. This veto does not kill the project as the Administration’s seven-year review continues.
But when considering that The State Department even estimated the project would directly or indirectly create 42,100 jobs, and increase earnings nationwide by $2 billion, the administration’s rhetoric doesn’t match their actions.
Looking back to when our economy took a dive in 2007; unemployment surged for skilled trade workers, and their family household incomes took a major hit. In the latter years of the 2000s, a reckless push to stimulate the economy through bailouts, stimulus checks, and project grants ensued, all which have done far more to boom the national debt than to boost real employment and wage growth.
The Keystone XL pipeline project represents what should have at least partially relieved these workers from this recession’s hardships. But, this commonsense solution continues to be ignored for seemingly-political reasons. Keystone XL must be completed. I refuse to play politics with the American worker’s livelihood and won’t stop pushing for this project that allows us to buy oil from friends that like us, rather than enemies that don’t. The alleviation of our infrastructure slowdown, creation of American jobs, and the future of North American energy independence all depend on it.