Highlander Showdown: Keystone XL Pipeline is a danger to environment

Courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

We need jobs, but at what cost?  Today politicians are willing to do whatever it takes to get into office or stay there, but desperate times do not call for irrational or hasty decisions.  We need leaders willing to make unpopular decisions in the face of adversity and at the risk of scuttling their own political aspirations.

Our impetuous political climate requires that we carefully examine words and decisions made by our leaders, which is exactly what must be done in regards to President Obama’s decision to delay the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, which is expected to send 830,000 barrels of crude oil across this nation, from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, daily once completed.

President Obama’s decision is neither popular nor politically savvy.  Political pundits claiming that his decision is intended to please environmentalists fail to recognize the impact his decision has had on his political support from unions, who are angry because of the loss of potential jobs that would’ve been created by the project.  In the media, Obama has been characterized as either a climate hero or job killer.

What we don’t hear is why this decision was necessary so early in the process—the State Department made it perfectly clear that more time was required to complete and examine the Environmental Impact Report, as required by law, and that the review and approval process would therefore need to be extended to 2013.

In December, House Republicans, angry and embarrassed over the controversial payroll tax cut, attached the pipeline decision to the tax measure and asked for a decision within 60 days, thereby forcing Obama’s hand before review of the Environmental Impact Report could be completed.

But despite the political consequences, the president refused to succumb to the political scheming of House Republicans and place our environment at risk.  He knew well we could not afford to suffer the environmental and economic devastation of another Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez.  Since 2010, the existing Keystone Pipeline has experienced 14 oil spills, including a 21,000 gallon spill in North Dakota.

Republicans responded by announcing that President Obama had killed jobs vis-à-vis their pseudo political campaign office, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who placed a full-page ad in the New York Times stating President Obama said no to 20,000 jobs—a number provided by TransCanada (the company slated to build the pipeline).

But this is not the case according to reports from the U.S. State Department and Cornell University, who collectively identified an estimated 2,500 to 4,650 jobs each year over two years that could have been created by the pipeline.  TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard did not respond to questions regarding these discrepancies, according to Inside Climate News.

Recently, President Obama made 21 million acres of offshore drilling sites available in the Gulf of Mexico, much to the chagrin of environmentalists.  That’s why we must closely examine these decisions if we are to appreciate Obama’s focus on doing the right thing for the right reason.  With reelection in the balance, Obama’s decision to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline as well as his approval of off-shore drilling sites demonstrates his commitment to developing natural resources and creating jobs in a responsible way.

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