By Senator John Thune
After formally rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline outright in January of this year, President Obama recently traveled to Cushing, Oklahoma, to announce an “expedited” process to approve the southern 29 percent of the 1,700-mile Pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico—the segment that does not require presidential approval. Ironically, the president is now saying he wants to expedite the pipeline review process.
Recognizing that TransCanada, the company building the $7 billion project, did not need the White House’s approval to move forward with the Cushing segment of the Pipeline, President Obama traveled to Cushing for his 17th energy-related speech in three months to claim credit for the project he has consistently opposed.
Make no mistake, the southern section of the Keystone XL Pipeline is being built in spite of the president, not because of the president.
While I am glad to see the president appears to now support additional pipeline infrastructure, regardless of the reasons, I would have liked to have heard him give his approval for the remaining 71 percent of the Keystone XL Pipeline, including the section that actually connects to the new sources of oil. I would have liked to have heard the president announce his support for getting the 830,000 barrels of oil per day the Pipeline would bring from America’s closest trading partner.
South Dakota stands to benefit greatly from tax revenue and job creation that would result from the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline in our state. By continuing to block the majority of the Pipeline construction, including the portion in South Dakota, the president is standing in the way of billions of dollars of private investment, thousands of new jobs nation-wide, and greater North American energy security.
Americans deserve more than President Obama’s new-found “29 percent of the above” energy strategy. Rather than delivering energy speeches and grand political statements, President Obama should allow the entire Keystone XL Pipeline to move forward.