Moving Canadian oil south

If President Obama wants to please parts of his dwindling base of support, he’s going to have to infuriate other special interests that are critical to his re-election campaign.

As usual, the battered American economy is caught in the middle.

The Obama administration still hasn’t approved the construction of a 1,700-mile, $7 billion oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas, even though Calgary-based TransCanada submitted its application more than three years ago and an initial environmental impact statement determined the project would have no detrimental effects on the Midwest.

The Keystone XL pipeline would create more than 100,000 new jobs, most of them high-paying union construction positions. It would generate billions of dollars in local and state tax revenues in the decades ahead, money that could spare public services from further cutbacks. In addition, a plentiful, inexpensively transported supply of oil from an ally would help hold the line on gasoline prices while reducing the country’s dependence on oil imports from unstable governments that are hostile to our national interests.

But the Democratic Party’s green extreme wing, which abhors fossil fuels and construction that disturbs any soil anywhere, is vehemently opposed. They view the pipeline as yet another example of corporate exploitation, and they don’t want the United States to purchase and refine “dirty” oil from Alberta’s tar sands, which require vast amounts of excavation. They say the project will exacerbate global warming and create an ecological catastrophe.

The greens say they want the government to force further investment in renewable energy. But that hasn’t worked out too well for the Obama administration, lately (see editorial below).

Canadian oil pipelines already run to Chicago and Oklahoma. And TransCanada has proposed 57 safety improvements for the Keystone XL pipeline in response to protests.

But environmentalists aren’t interested in compromise. Echoing the sentiments of fellow leftist protesters on Wall Street, many green zealots are against capitalism itself. Maura Cowley, co-director of the anti-pipeline Energy Action Coalition, said, “There is too much at stake here to let Big Oil push its way to larger profit margins.”

Energy drives our economy. Cheaper energy is critical to a recovery and future growth. That’s why these so-called environmentalists are opposed to sources of cheap, plentiful energy. They want to reduce our energy consumption, subject the American economy to further contraction and thereby reduce a standard of living we have spent centuries improving.

President Obama can’t please both his union base and the greens. He can’t rip Congress for failing to pass his tax-hiking “jobs bill” while he sits on the Keystone XL application. If jobs and energy independence really are the president’s priorities, he’ll authorize the pipeline at once.

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