Senator John Thune
Pending before President Obama is a true economic stimulus plan. Unlike the $833 billion stimulus bill that was loaded with pet projects and wasteful government spending, this stimulus plan is privately funded and would not waste taxpayer dollars on yet another duplicative government program. Instead, this plan would bolster private sector job creation, would help secure America’s energy future, and would generate tax revenue and stimulate growth in South Dakota and throughout the country. This pending plan is the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
While the benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline are clear, what remains unclear is why President Obama continues to delay this job-creating, domestic energy-producing project. The pipeline, which would run through South Dakota, is expected to create an estimated 20,000 jobs, and transport up to an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries. This $7 billion project would not only stimulate the American economy, it would create hundreds of construction jobs and generate new tax revenue in South Dakota.
Unfortunately, in January of 2012, the president decided to play politics with this important economic project. Instead of determining whether to move forward with the pipeline, the president opted to punt the decision until after the 2012 presidential election, further delaying job creation and energy production.
On January 22, 2013, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman approved a new route through Nebraska for the Keystone XL pipeline that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. The new route was approved after the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality determined the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact on the area.
Following the news of Governor Heineman’s approval, I joined a bipartisan group of 53 U.S. Senators on January 23, 2013, in sending another letter to President Obama urging him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline without delay. The letter encouraged the president to choose economic development and American energy security, and to cease all further delays on the pipeline. After several political delays and four and a half years of environmental reviews, it is time for the president to stick to the deadline. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Obama Administration’s State Department plans to make a determination regarding the environmental documents for this pipeline until this spring or summer.
I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to push for this bipartisan project to ensure we continue investing in America’s energy future.