Obama faces political heat if Keystone rejected: API

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 4, 2012 4:26pm EST

Demonstrators call for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally in front of the White House in Washington November 6, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Demonstrators call for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally in front of the White House in Washington November 6, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the top oil and gas lobbying group said on Wednesday that the Obama administration will face serious political consequences if it rejects a Canada-to-Texas oil sands pipeline that has been opposed by environmental groups.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline would definitely play a role in this year's national elections.

"This issue is very simple and straightforward, it's about jobs and national security," Gerard told reporters after giving a speech on the state of U.S. energy.

"Anything less than approval or acquiescence in allowing the pipeline to go forward would be inconsistent with the vast majority of Americans," Gerard said.

The oil and gas industry says the country needs the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 700,000 barrels per day or more of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf coast refineries.

But the decision on the pipeline is a difficult one for President Barack Obama. Approval would upset environmentalists, an important part of his voter base, while axing the project would upset some labor unions, another part of his base.

With environmental groups concerned about carbon emissions from oil sands production, the administration had delayed a decision on a presidential permit for the project until 2013.

The administration says it needs more time to consider alternative routes for the pipeline, which originally was planned to traverse sensitive habitats and a crucial water source in Nebraska.

Lawmakers that support the project were able to attach a measure to a tax-cut law passed at the end of last year that requires the president to decide whether the project is in the national interest by late February.

API is launching an advertising campaign aimed at getting Americans to consider candidates' stances on energy issues, including the Keystone project, before they cast their ballots in November.

While Gerard stressed that the advertising campaign is non-partisan, API has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration's energy policies.

In addition to the Keystone delays, the group has blasted the administration for not opening up more areas to offshore drilling and for its push to eliminate certain tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Republicans in Congress have also forcefully objected to the administration's delay of the Keystone pipeline, accusing the White House of placing politics over job creation.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee have placed a clock on their website counting the days until the administration must weigh in on the project.

"After waiting more than three years for this pipeline while the country faces prolonged unemployment, the American people are fed up with the president's inaction on a project that can quickly create jobs," Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee, said in a statement.

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Comments (3)
USAPragmatist wrote:
“This issue is very simple and straightforward, it’s about jobs and national security,” Gerard told reporters after giving a speech on the state of U.S. energy.

I could not agree more….We need long term jobs, like ones that would be provided by a 21st century economy based upon 21st Century energy technologies, not 19th century discoveries. This project would supply some temporary construction jobs but nothing long-term.

We need national security with regards to our oil consumption, the way to do that is to end our addiction to oil, NOT by getting more addicted to the crack version of oil, dirty tar sands oil. This oil is not only expensive to mine, why oil companies have not started going after it till recently, but VERY dirty and harmful to the environment, not only with increased CO2 output, but also massive strip mining of old growth forests in the tar sands areas.

The answer is to put a ‘windfall’ tax on oil company profits and additional gas taxes, with the money collected going DIRECTLY into alternative energy and fusion research. We led the world in energy production/technology/research in the 20th century and there is no reason we can not do it again in the 21st century if we get our act together and end our addiction.

Jan 04, 2012 5:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
rpsjc wrote:
Oil pipeline or Internet gambling, I wonder which one Obama thinks will help or hurt America? Oh, I think he already told us.

Jan 04, 2012 5:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Ralphooo wrote:
“This issue is very simple and straightforward, it’s about jobs and national security.” — Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute.

This issue is indeed very simple, which explains why Mr. Gerard has to lie so strenuously about it.

The issue is that energy companies effectively have an infinite supply of money, while the people who CARE ABOUT THE PLANET effectively have none.

That explains why this is not “political trouble.” It’s ordinary extortion. The energy companies are demanding protection money. Tony Soprano would be very proud.

Here is the script: “Mr. President, build the pipeline. If you do not, we will make sure you lose the election by running hundreds of anti-Obama advertisements on every TV station in the country.”

Drowning America with hostile political advertising is a small expense for an energy company. Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest company, had a $7 billion profit last year.

By comparison, the amount that will be spent on all political advertising for the 2012 election is predicted to be up to about $3 billion. The energy companies could spend a combined $2 billion, and very likely decide the election.

Jan 04, 2012 6:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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