The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.
Not needed for U.S. energy security or employment
Many are surprised that President Barack Obama has not yet approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, creating thousands of jobs while reducing America’s dependence on Middle East oil. His reluctance shouldn’t be surprising — no single act that he could take would more undermine his vision for America or his desired legacy as a transformational leader.
To a Republican, Keystone would be a solid accomplishment in what otherwise seems a failed presidency. But to a Democrat — and especially to America’s top Democrat — the Obama presidency is on track to achieve momentous accomplishments. Here are the goals Obama announced for his presidency on the night of June 3, 2008, upon winning enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination for president:
“If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. This was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.”
Obama made good on his health-care pledge. The unemployment rate has finally begun to drop. He is making good on ending a war. The one major pledge that remains to be met is climate change, in some ways the most profound because it affects the planet and is the most consequential to his legacy — it would secure his reputation as a transformative figure outside the country as well as within.
So what’s the case for turning his back on his climate change concerns and approving Keystone? Not energy security. The U.S. has been going gang-busters in expanding production, despite Obama’s success in restricting drilling off-shore and on government lands. The latest projections have the U.S. a net energy exporter in five years and oil self-sufficient by 2035. If Obama wanted to speed the energy security timetable he could do it by spurring production at home, rather than relying on Canada’s tar sands.
Besides, the main reason Canada wants and needs Keystone is to fetch higher prices for its oil, which is now bottled in and sold at a discount — the Keystone pipeline would allow Canadian oil to flow through to the Gulf Coast, from where it could be exported to Asia at higher prices than now paid by Americans. Was Obama elected to serve the interests of the Canadian oil industry, when doing so would also raise prices for U.S. consumers?
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/03/14/lawrence-solomon-obama-will-block-keystone/