Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of senators asked President Obama to consider issuing a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. These nine Democrat senators and nine Republicans asked Obama to approve the pipeline to help create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The group was led by Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and John Hoeven (R-ND). “The pressure is on the president,” Hoeven said. “He has to decide whether he wants to answer to the American people or special interest groups.”
Both Baucus and Hoeven represent the oil-rich Bakken region, through which the pipeline goes. It is necessary for the government to approve the project because the pipeline originates in Canada and crosses an international border. The letter sent to the president stated “Setting politics aside: nothing has changed about the thousands of jobs that Keystone XL will create. Nothing has changed about the security to be gained from using more fuel produced at home and by a close and stable ally. And nothing has changed about the need for America to remain a place where businesses can still build things.”
Environmentalists are speaking out against the pipeline. The coalition (including the 350.org, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace US, and Friends of the Earth) said “No one needs to get arrested this time — though that may come as the winter wears on. For now we simply need to let the president know we haven’t forgotten, and that our conviction hasn’t cooled.”
A portion of the pipeline has already been constructed. The southern piece of the pipeline (running from Cushing, Oklahoma to Texas) did not require a special permit, and work is already underway. However the full 1,661 miles from Port Arthur, Texas to Hardistry, Alberta (which will move 830,000 barrels of oil per day) is held up pending approval on the northern leg.
Although Obama should approve the pipeline, all is not lost if he does not. In fact, Congress has the authority to approve the pipeline, but it would be very difficult given the current makeup in the Senate. Regardless of how it comes to pass, American jobs and energy independence should be put ahead of politics.