White House Punting on Keystone XL Pipeline?

Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue on fight for jobs


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, you don’t want to pump it here, we will just take it over there, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper telling President Obama he will now be looking to China to sell its oil, this after the White House delayed a key decision to build a key pipeline from Canada to the U.S.

If my next guest is right, the U.S. will lose about 20,000 jobs in the process. The group he heads is slamming the president’s delay in full-page ads throughout the country.

To U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue.

Now, Tom, the president has been saying decision delayed is not necessarily decision denied. You say it doesn’t matter because these jobs are going to go. Right?

TOM DONOHUE, PRESIDENT & CEO, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Well, if were to move it forward on this decision, as soon as we do, the companies that are building the pipeline will hire 20,000 people and over the course of the next few years, many thousands more and other jobs will be created because the construction will begin.

And so if you wait until after the election you will delay 12 or 15 months before this thing is done and a lot people are not going to get a job. And our energy security will be further away. And our friends in Canada who are our very best friends are going to be turned down one more time and they will start building a pipeline, as Prime Minister Harper said, to the west coast, and probably put selling oil to China before selling oil to us. And, by the way, it is our fault. It’s not theirs.

CAVUTO: Do you think this is just the Canadian prime minister just playing hardball with the White House, to say, hey, you better wake up and smell the crude oil here or it’s not going your way?

DONOHUE: I think the Canadian prime minister is laying out what his options are.

I really think that the company that is bringing the oil out of the ground and ready to sell, you know, has a lot of money invested. And they have got to take a very careful look at where their priority will be now. Who knows for sure that we will do this thing in 15 months?

CAVUTO: What do you make of relations right now between your organization and the White House? They have improved from the coldest days. I’m wondering if they are getting cold again. Your offices as people can tell here are right across the street from the White House.

And there have been some overtures on both sides. I’m wondering now whether has this chilled them all over again.

DONOHUE: No. Look, our relationships are fine.

Right now today, Mrs. Obama and the fellow that works for us that is working on employment veterans -- employing veterans -- are having a big event in Hawaii and we are doing it all over the country. Mrs. Obama was over here last week. We’re doing things with Daley. We had a big meeting with him in Hawaii.

There are good relationships. Because you go after a policy that is all politics and not good policy doesn’t mean you are having bad relationships with the White House. It means you are pointing out what exactly was done and exactly wasn’t done.

CAVUTO: When you look at the number of jobs the administration argues are turning around now, we are beginning to see some consistent job growth, albeit very minor job growth, but enough to say as many in the White House do that the trend is their friend, do you agree with that?

DONOHUE: Well, I think the trend has to be to create any significant number of jobs and get over 3 percent quarterly growth and annual growth, and I think if you can get growth you can create jobs.

Until you do, you won’t. And the best way in this country today to create jobs is to do the pipeline, to go back to drilling oil safely and soundly in the Gulf, and to do the other things that are very, very clear that we can do to put people back to work. We will need that oil. We will need that gas for a long time to come.

And we can do it safely and cleanly. And to deny doing that for political purposes in my view is very unfair to those people that desperately need a job.

CAVUTO: Nevertheless, Tom, the White House was very quick to shut this thing down or at least table it, not nearly so quick to shut down a host of solar initiatives and projects post-Solyndra, obviously tipping its hand in its favoritism.

Do you think that that hints of more problems to come just in general?


I think, first of all, we are in an election season. Traditionally, for many years, long before this administration, we have called it the silly season, where everyone is trying to position themselves with their constituents and how they are going to operate. But in this instance, Terry O’Sullivan, that leads the Laborers, one of the really good unions in this country, came out and attacked this decision as just plain old politics and keeping his people out of jobs.

CAVUTO: All right.

DONOHUE: So, while you have to do your silly season, you ought to think about what you really want to do. And that is put people back to work. And that is the best chance that any candidate has to get elected.

CAVUTO: Tom Donohue, good seeing you again. Thank you very much.

DONOHUE: Thank you very much, Neil.

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