Pipeline pushover: What Obama’s Keystone XL decision really tells the American public

Short of announcing it outright, President Obama could not have signaled in stronger terms than he did Wednesday how little he cares for the plight of the American public.

With the news that the White House is definitively rejecting approval of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, a project that has the potential to employ 20,000 Americans almost immediately, the president has made clear that he’d rather placate a small group of environmental radicals than offer real relief to unemployed Americans struggling to pay constantly rising gas prices.

Once operational, the Keystone XL would bring 900,000 barrels of crude a day from Canadian oil sands in Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries in the United States. That would mean the creation of approximately a quarter of a million new American jobs over the project’s lifetime, as well as more than $5 billion in property taxes for the states on the pipeline’s route. Given that more than 25 million Americans are currently under-employed or out of work completely, these numbers mean a great deal – just not to Obama and his administration, apparently.

The Keystone XL has been valued by at least one major independent study at more than $20 billion from both economic and security-related standpoints. As Iran’s banana republic threatens for the third straight week to close the Strait of Hormuz and cut off a sixth of the world’s oil supply, we are witnessing the fallout from another Obama shortcoming – failure to take a hard line with Tehran. The Keystone XL, then, is a golden chance for Obama to shore up energy security as he simultaneously helps lower national unemployment. It should be a no-brainer.

But as usual when it comes to measures that would bolster our long-suffering economy, Obama and his cohorts never miss an opportunity. Beholden, bafflingly, to the relatively small environmentalist voting bloc and the lure of another term in office, Obama today effectively thumbed his nose at the majority of hardworking Americans as they struggle to make ends meet in the economic climate he vowed to improve.

But the problem of the administration’s Keystone XL rejection goes deeper, even, than employment: If we don’t move on the pipeline project, someone else will, and likely already is. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said publicly on Wednesday that Canada will now seek to "diversify" its portfolio - more than likely in the form of sale of the crude to China, which Harper has said before Canada would do.

This is a promise we can be sure he means to keep; indeed, Transcanada President Russ Girling said cryptically today that “pans are already under way on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project."

With an 8.5 percent unemployment rate, an economy struggling to gain traction and rising oil and gas prices, the Obama administration has chosen, once again, to pursue a destructive energy policy that discourages any actual energy production. Perhaps by “hope and change,” Obama meant “protracted, high unemployment and remaining beholden to unstable, despotic regimes in the Middle East.” Otherwise, he has failed Americans terribly in his decision on the Keystone XL project.

Bob Beauprez is a former Republican Colorado congressman. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of “A Line of Sight” a policy resource covering issues that affect conservatives across the country and operates a working buffalo ranch in Colorado.