With the holidays over the stage is set for the Keystone XL pipeline to be the first political battle of 2015, pitting the lame duck President Obama against the new Republican-led Congress.
The political posturing over approval of the pipeline that would bring oil sand crude oil from Canada to refineries in Gulf Coast states began shortly after the midterm elections.
During his end of the year press conference last month, Obama downplayed the economic benefits of construction of the pipeline saying it would not benefit consumers at the gas pump and job creation would be limited to a few thousand temporary construction jobs and some additional employment in the refinery industry.
Obama followed those comments by saying in an interview with NPR that he would use his veto power to block the Congressional bills that threaten his accomplishments in areas including the environment.
As new members of Congress were being sworn into office, word came from the White House that Obama would not sign a bill approving the pipeline.
Meanwhile, the new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), promised to put a vote on the Keystone pipeline on the fast track. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had scheduled a hearing on the Keystone approval bill on January 7 but the hearing was blocked and by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Despite the last minute gymnastics by anti-fossil fuel Democrats, a bill approving the pipeline will pass Congress but be met with an Obama veto.
The truth is Obama never had any intention to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Obama’s obsession with his climate change agenda and the money flowing from radical environmentalists such as billionaire Tom Steyer to Democrats will serve as motivation to use his veto pen.
Additionally, Obama’s arrogance would not allow him to yield to the first bill coming from the Republican led Congress.
Republicans should seize on the veto by Obama as an opportunity to educate the public, especially middle class voters, on the consequences of the president’s climate change agenda.
Properly positioned and communicated, the new Congress can expose how climate change regulations benefit billionaire elites while harming the lower and middle class Americans.
In fact, the economic consequences of Obama’s energy policy offers an amazing opportunity to reach traditional Democrat voters including labor union members and blacks.
Labor unions support construction of the pipeline. Last month James Hoffa, President of the International Teamsters Union wrote a commentary in the Detroit News urging Michigan’s elected officials to support construction of the pipeline.
According to Hoffa, construction of the Keynote pipeline would result in about a $3.4 billion boost to the country’s gross national product and approximately a total of 42,100 jobs including construction and supplier jobs.
The Laborers’ International Union of America (LIUNA) also supports the Keystone pipeline. LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan has criticized Obama for ignoring the indirect economic benefits of the pipeline that would occur from communities that would support the construction project.
By rejecting Keystone, Obama would be siding with the environmental lobby over union jobs, inviting a union backlash.
Keep in mind that voter reaction in Kentucky and West Virginia to Obama’s war on coal, which cost thousands of coal miner jobs, helped elect Republicans in those coal dependent states to the Senate.
Republicans must also communicate the adverse economic impact of EPA regulations that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Higher energy costs from climate change regulations preferentially harms lower income families.
A study by Dr. Wayne Winegarden from the Pacific Research Institute on EPA’s proposed Clean Power rule in Ohio shows the greatest burden of increased electricity costs falls on black households. While higher income families in Ohio would pay 1.1 percent of their yearly spending on electricity, the average black household would spend 5.8 percent.
Lower income black households could spend a much greater amount with some spending more than 20 percent of their household income on electricity. Such outrageous utility bill increases would drive more black families to government dependency.
As the last election shows Obama’s policies harmed the Democrat brand with voters. By using his veto pen against the Keystone pipeline Obama could cause labor union members and blacks to break away from the traditional Democrat coalition.