The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

August 2, 2013

Obama still wrong on Keystone

Why it matters The Keystone pipeline project has been delayed unnecessarily by the Obama administration

The latest dustup between bipartisan groups in Congress and President Obama on the Keystone pipeline project that center around the number of jobs it would create stand as a diversion to the main issue: Approval of this project is long overdue and the Obama administration is responsible for the delay and the continued high gas prices that come with it.

The first delay in approval came before last year’s election, with the administration making a case that the State Department’s environmental review was not complete and there were still some standing issues with the states involved including Nebraska.

While some suspected that was a political move to avoid the controversy before the election, there were legitimate questions outstanding.

But now, those questions have been answered by and large. The review was said to have been completed last December.

Final touches on approval were going to be completed in March.

Now, the administration says the State Department is still not done with its study. Nebraska’s issues had been resolved. The governor approved a review by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Yet, here we are haggling over whether the project will create 2,000 construction jobs (Obama’s recent estimate) or his own State Department’s estimate of 3,900 construction jobs.

The State Department even estimated the project would create 42,000 jobs overall, provide about $2 billion in worker’s earnings, $3.3 billion in construction materials and $67 million in state and local taxes.

Frankly, in this economy, one job would be better than none. Fact checkers from The Washington Post and Politifact have ruled Obama’s jobs statement inaccurate. The Obama administration has not responded, but seems to be letting its interest groups do so for it.

Jobs have always been a nice benefit of construction projects and politicians of varying stripes are quick to point to jobs as the reason for building almost anything. But we should remember, the Keystone XL pipeline is going to increase — relatively — the supply of oil in the world economy and help put downward pressure on gas prices.

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