Radical Environmentalists Blocking Shovel Ready Projects?

When President Obama announced his jobs plan back at the beginning of September, he focused almost exclusively on what the government could do for Americans. He mentioned thousands of “shovel ready” projects that needed the strong arms and constitutions of Americans willing to lend their hands to government-run projects across the country. From his speech, you’d think there were no possible projects in the private sector about to provide thousands of jobs to the growing number of unemployed.

Of course, that perception would be incorrect. While President Obama is pushing government-funded jobs across the country, he is ignoring at least one such private sector initiative awaiting his approval: a private sector initiative that could employ thousands, boost the GDP and help provide the US with energy independence…at absolutely no cost to the American taxpayer. The $7 billion Keystone pipeline project – an oil pipeline spanning the continental United States from the oil sands in Canada to the heart of Texas – is just that project.

Unfortunately, because of the Obama Administration and its cronies in environmental groups, Nebraska government and elsewhere, the Keystone pipeline project, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs, may be in jeopardy.

The Keystone Pipeline would originate in Canada, transporting nearly 150,000 barrels of oil per day from the oil sands in western Canada, down through the United States to refineries in Texas and projects in a handful of other states. Once the Obama Administration approves its construction, it could bring over a million barrels of oil per day to American refineries, boosting a severely lagging oil industry in the Gulf and possibly millions of dollars in revenue to the US. Plus, it would severely decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

The thing is, the Obama Administration has to move fast. Canada is absolutely interested in developing its oil sands, and production will continue whether the US agrees to be the country receiving the crude oil or not. In other words, if the United States doesn’t want the work, Canada is just as happy selling the crude oil to China and to other Asian countries where massive development projects are creating a huge demand for natural resources. According to the New York Times, tanker companies are already lining up to offer their services to the Canadian government, assuming that the United States listens to radical environmentalists and passes on the Keystone project.

So why is the Obama Administration dragging its heels? The main culprit is radical environmentalists who would sacrifice the American economy – and national security – to their own bizarre interests. They are protesting Canada’s development of the oil sands, and see blocking the Keystone pipeline project as a key way of preventing Canada from tapping into their massive crude oil reserves. Unfortunately, the Canadian government doesn’t really care that much what environmentalists think, and Canadian PM Stephen Harper has made it abundantly clear that Canada will undertake the project. He’s even responded to environmentalist tactics blocking the Keystone project, saying that American approval of the project should be a “no brainer.

And it should be. According to a New York Times Greenwire piece from late August, the environmental impact of the actual pipeline project would be minimal.

The EIS addressed many of green groups’ most high-profile complaints about the pipeline, from the pipeline’s risk of spilling heavy Canadian crude in sensitive areas of the Plains to the higher greenhouse gas emissions produced by oil sands relative to conventional fuel. Those issues were dismissed or rebutted to varying degrees, particularly a claim echoed by senior congressional Democrats that Keystone XL could raise gas prices in the Midwest and benefit Chinese markets.

They were responding directly to a State Department study that directly addressed the possibility of a negative environmental impact. The State Department found that there would be very minimal environmental damage, and the possibility for future environmental impact was minimal as well. Although they have yet to assess the economic and cultural impact of the Keystone project, right now the State Department seems to be finding itself with nearly no environmental objections, a conclusion that must have been incredibly disappointing to groups like the Sierra Club, which is devoting significant energy to pressuring the Administration and Democratic governors in potential Keystone states. Their success in influencing Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, has been a major road block, and they’re threatening further action.

It’s now up to Americans to refute these radical environmentalists and ensure that these jobs and this economic potential stay in the United States. The Obama Administration is poised to make a decision soon, and it could hinge on how Americans respond in six townhall meetings that the State Department is holding in key Keystone states. Americans who care about the economic (and security) future of the United States need to stand up and demand that the Keystone pipeline be built.

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