With a sputtering economy and gasoline nearly $4.00 a gallon, Congress should do what President Obama refuses to—immediately approve the Keystone pipeline.
Attempting to appease his insatiable base during this election cycle, Obama killed the Keystone pipeline, the construction project that would have delivered millions of barrels of crude oil from Alberta, Canada to refiners in Oklahoma and Texas.
Eager to approve the pipeline and enjoy the thousands of jobs, millions of barrels of crude oil, and billions in economic activity that are tethered to the project, Republicans have pushed legislation that would overturn Obama’s decision and approve the pipeline.
Most recently, the House-passed Highway bill includes a provision that would give the Keystone pipeline the green light.
Now that the House bill is moving to conference with the Senate’s watered-down bill, Obama has doubled down on his job killing position and threatened to veto any highway bill that touches the Keystone project.
Unfortunately, Americans have come to expect this sort of behavior from the president.
Setting an antagonistic tone at the beginning of his presidency, on February 4, 2009 a newly elected President Obama withdrew 77 expected oil and natural gas lease sales in Utah -- immediately postponing 3,000 jobs.
Soon after, the president’s Interior Department restricted drilling on a majority of America’s Outer Continental Shelf. Where offshore drilling wasn’t prohibited, Mr. Obama issued a deepwater drilling moratorium which was struck down in federal court. Undeterred, he then issued a second deepwater moratorium that stuck.
Exemplifying how difficult it has become for oil and gas producers to develop America’s natural resources that happen to be on federal lands, approved Applications for Permits to Drill are down 36 percent since Obama took office.
By any metric, the president has inhibited oil production when he can—oil and natural gas production on federal lands is down 14 percent from 2010.
Instead of increasing domestic oil and natural gas production, the Obama administration has pursued policies that exacerbate the international oil disruptions that cause the price of gasoline to rise.
While it is true that the price of oil—and subsequently the price of gasoline—is set on the world market, increased American production of a few million barrels of oil per day would absolutely mitigate gasoline price swings. In fact, oil markets are so sensitive that during President Bush’s 2008 speech announcing additional oil lease sales, the international price of oil dropped $9.26 per barrel.
By contrast, where the federal government has no jurisdiction, energy production is flourishing.
Oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken formation has beaten the state’s unemployment rate down to an impressive 3.0 percent. Not a large part of America’s energy picture a decade ago, North Dakota is now the third-highest producing state pumping out 575,000 barrels of oil every day.
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other states are cashing in on the shale gas revolution utilizing new technology to access overthought natural gas reserves. Bringing cheap electricity to market has revived America’s struggling manufacturing sector and breathed new life into America’s chemical industry.
And yet, despite the moratoriums, the slowed permitting, the threats of tax increases, scuttling the Keystone pipeline, President Obama is trying to convince the American public that he is in favor of cheap, abundant North American energy. He’ll have a tough time doing so until he approves the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. Follow him on Twitter @GroverNorquist.