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During his acceptance speech, a freshly re-elected President Obama spoke of a message that he received from the American people, a message to "focus on your jobs" and to tackle the challenge of "freeing ourselves from foreign oil".
With that in mind, there is one project in the international spotlight that would quickly and easily address both of those issues - approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
And now, our Canadian allies are urging the White House to stop playing politics, stop sending mixed signals, stop stalling, and approve the project that would not only benefit our neighbors to the north, but the United States economy itself.
For the past year, the Obama administration played politics with the Keystone project in an attempt to placate the far-left environmental contingency in the Democrat party, creating confusion about the future of the pipeline and leaving Canada to wonder if their support and friendship were being taken for granted.
Peter McKenna, chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Prince Edward Island stated, "It made sense for Obama to put that (Keystone) on the back burner to deal with the environmental constituency of the Democratic Party".
He added however, that issues affecting Canada need to be addressed now that the election is over, citing the Keystone XL Pipeline as "the most important issue".
While the President's initial decision to reject the pipeline was blatantly political in nature, it came at a cost to the American people, delaying real job creation and energy progress. Now however, approving construction should be a no-brainer.
In a post-election editorial, The Globe and Mail wrote:
Last January, President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada Corp.’s proposal to build a pipeline carrying Canadian bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to refineries in the United States, including some in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The rejection was a calculated election-year move aimed at appeasing Mr. Obama’s supporters in the powerful environmental movement. With his re-election, the President should now move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on its merits alone.
While Peter McKenna sees approval of the pipeline happening in the next six to twelve months, and with Moody's also predicting approval, Stephen Ewart, Editor of the Calgary Herald's Energy and Economics section isn't quite as optimistic.
Ewart counters that approval of the pipeline is anything but a 'no-brainer', citing scheduled protests over the pipeline that will apply pressure to the White House, as well as looming concerns from environmental activists over the effects of climate change, concerns freshly renewed by the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
Ewart adds that despite the election results seemingly freeing the President to make the right decision on the pipeline, concern for his legacy means politics will continue to play a role in that decision.
He writes, "Obama has provided little insight into his views on Keystone XL, but it seems unlikely politics will not play a role in the decision that will impact his presidential legacy."
Uncertainty north of the border has been amplified by the administration's silence thus far on the project. Rather than following his campaign slogan by moving 'forward' with the project, President Obama has remained non-committal.
James Wood, also in the Calgary Herald, concurs.
"... Obama, who earlier this year rejected TransCanada Corp.’s initial application because it needed more environmental review, has remained noncommittal about the fate of the line".
Uncertainty for our Canadian allies creates another major concern for the U.S. - the threat of oil and economic resources being exported to China.
The Globe and Mail editorial cites this possibility:
"The pipeline has even been touted as the best way for Canadian producers to export crude to China, by putting it on ships once it arrives in the Gulf."
Most importantly, the same editorial spells out in simple terms why the Keystone XL Pipeline should easily garner approval. Aside from the many economic and energy benefits, the project has worked around areas that were of greatest concern to the environmental obstructionists.
The "merits are many, and they serve both Canada and the United States. TransCanada Corp. has proposed a new route that avoids environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska and reduces potential impact on the vital Ogallala aquifer. The pipeline’s construction will create jobs, secure a hungry market for the heavier crude from the oil sands, decrease North American dependency on overseas oil, and help lower the price of gas in the United States."
Will the Obama administration follow through on their promise to focus on jobs and free the United States from the constraints of foreign oil? Perhaps of equal import, will they make a decision before these valuable resources end up benefitting other foreign countries such as China?
The economic benefits to our nation and our neighbors to the north are far too numerous to allow this opportunity to slip away.