Glenn Thompson: Politics behind Obama’s Keystone decision

On Feb. 24, President Barack Obama vetoed the bipartisan Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, preventing construction of this long-awaited project and confirming speculation that political calculations have been his motivating factor.

With this veto, the president was not merely putting a thumb in the eye of his oft Republican detractors; rather he was turning his back on many of his supporters such as labor unions, small businesses and, most importantly, a majority of the American public.

During its review of the project, the Department of State estimated that construction of the pipeline would support 42,100 jobs, contributing to $2 billion in earnings throughout the United States, including Pennsylvania. In addition to direct construction jobs, additional goods and service in the form of inputs and materials would be required. While these jobs will not have permanency, the pipeline would be a permanent fixture.

Obama’s decision to reject the pipeline’s construction was purely to appease small, vocal groups of environmental extremists, despite the fact that the project passed environmental test after environmental test. In fact, this method of transporting oil is much safer than other alternatives and will be refined right here in America, along the Gulf Coast.

For more than six years, rather than taking lead on a project of national significance, the president skirted his duties, strategically moving project deadlines around national elections to benefit his own party. We all know how well that worked out.

Building Keystone XL was never about Obama “winning” or “losing,” but rather about doing what is right for the American people. The Keystone pipeline is about ensuring a continuous and reliable energy source from our allies to the north, while creating thousands of American jobs and economic activity in the process.

In Pennsylvania, with the recent development of the Marcellus Shale, we have seen firsthand the great benefits that producing energy can have upon the regional economy, local job markets, business growth and consumer prices. Not to mention the significant tax revenue being generated each day.

All of this has taken place, while significantly reducing emissions throughout the commonwealth, along with lowering our dependence upon foreign energy. This is a win-win for Pennsylvania and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would certainly mirror the positive effects of our energy rebirth.

When it comes to a national energy policy, Obama should look no further than the Keystone State as an example of the positive benefits of homegrown energy development.