Weekly Columns

Time to Build

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Washington, February 11, 2015 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

For six years, President Obama jumped from one political excuse to another as he has worked to prevent construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The first application for the pipeline was submitted in September 2008. Since that time, the State Department has completed five reviews of the project, all finding that construction of the pipeline would be good for the economy and safe for the environment.

The most recent analysis was released more than a year ago in January 2014. This report concluded that the project would not increase carbon emissions and would create more than 42,000 jobs. Sadly, the president has ignored the agencies in his administration and continues to block the pipeline—putting the interests of environmentalists before the American people who would benefit from job creation and having more reliable energy sources. As an outdoorsman, I also want to protect the environment, but this project has been deemed environmentally sound time and time again.

I have been a strong supporter of the Keystone pipeline since coming to Congress, and I was pleased to see the Senate vote to move this project forward last week. The Senate’s action makes good on the promise Republicans made to the American people to get things done with our new majorities. Both the Senate-passed bill and the House-passed bill have received strong bipartisan majority votes. Unfortunately, President Obama has threatened to veto this commonsense legislation. I hope in the face of strong public support he will reconsider and move this critically important energy project forward.

I honestly can’t understand why the president is choosing to ignore his own State Department and bipartisan support in Congress. If anything, this broad support should encourage him to sign this bill. During his State of the Union address, President Obama said we needed to set our sights higher than a pipeline, and I agree. But we cannot move forward on issues like tax reform or repealing-and-replacing Obamacare if the president refuses to work with Congress on issues with a proven bipartisan consensus.

As I’ve said before, I strongly support an all-of-the-above approach to energy policy in this country. I believe we should continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and tap into the resources we have here at home. We should use domestic oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind and hydro power to create jobs in this country. And this is not just an economic issue—developing strong energy sources in the United States would help with national security by ensuring we are not beholden to unstable countries in the Middle East. Still, the president refuses to budge.

This is not the kind of leadership—or lack thereof—we need. The American people spoke loud and clear against President Obama’s agenda last November, and it’s time to put the people above pride and politics. The president is at a crossroads. He can be a lame-duck obstructionist in his last years in office, or he can leave the Oval Office a leader unafraid of compromise. I certainly hope—for the sake of the nation—he chooses the latter.  

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