During Monday’s White House Summit on Working Families, President Barack Obama assured those in attendance that his administration would “do everything we can to create more jobs and more opportunity for Americans.”
“Right now,” he said, “too many folks are on the sidelines who have the desire and the capacity to work, but they’re held back by one obstacle or another.”
The president was talking about working parents’ need for job flexibility, affordable child care and paid leave. But he failed to address something else holding back Americans looking for work: politics.
Take the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, for example.
The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, hold the world’s largest crude reserves outside Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The Keystone XL pipeline would send some 830,000 barrels of crude each day from Alberta across the Midwest to American refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project, if allowed to proceed, would create thousands of jobs without Washington having to borrow or spend a dime.
President Obama has long avoided making a decision on the project because key parts of the Democratic Party base are on opposite sides of the issue. Private-sector labor unions support the pipeline and desperately want the construction jobs it would create, while alarmist environmentalists vehemently oppose the project.
The president declined to make a decision in his first term because he needed both camps to win re-election. In June 2013, he said he would approve the project only if it didn’t “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” The U.S. State Department’s recent final supplemental environmental impact statement on the pipeline concluded that it wouldn’t, but the president still hasn’t budged — and won’t before yet another election if folks such as Tom Steyer have anything to say about it.
Mr. Steyer is a billionaire hedge fund operator and phony environmental activist who amassed his fortune through coal and fossil fuel investments but conveniently flip-flopped to become a green energy booster. Through his NextGen Climate group, Mr. Steyer has pledged $100 million in support of Democratic candidates who oppose the pipeline. Mr. Steyer claims to want to protect Earth, but he really wants to protect his green energy investments, which could be undermined if North America fully develops its massive fossil fuel resources.
The greens would like Americans to believe that blocking the Keystone project would block Canadian oil from the global market. But oil already is being shipped via truck and train, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is moving forward with another pipeline. If ultimately approved, the Northern Gateway project would transport 525,000 barrels a day from Alberta to the Pacific Ocean to be delivered to Asia. Keystone XL can co-exist with the Northern Gateway project and other pipelines — Canada has that much oil and gas. The question is whether Americans will get the opportunity to share in Canada’s prosperity.
President Obama says he will do whatever he can to help working families and create more jobs. He can start by approving the Keystone XL pipeline today.