By Representative Chip Cravaack
Once in a while an idea comes along that should receive overwhelming bipartisan, if not unanimous, support. One such idea is being held up in the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Senate. It is known as the Trans-
Canada Keystone XL Pipeline project, a proposed 1,700-mile crude oil pipeline that would wind its way from the tar sand fields in Alberta, Canada, to existing terminals in Texas and Louisiana -- giving much-needed employment to American workers at no cost to taxpayers.
Labor unions, such as the 49ers of the International Union of Operating Engineers, have strongly urged the Obama Administration to issue a presidential permit giving the go-ahead for the project. And workers along the pipeline route are ready to begin construction in 2012.
That was the case until the administration told them not so fast, that maybe in 2013 it would decide to issue a permit for the project.
Supporters of this project have every right to be angry and frustrated that the administration is withholding its blessing. At a time of high unemployment and our country's growing reliance on oil from the Middle East it should be an obvious decision to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline project. Why the delay? It would appear politics are at play, at the expense of America's unemployed and underemployed.
This project is good for Minnesotans. It is good for the American worker.
Our Canadian friends and neighbors are incredulous over the administration's decision not to decide. Within days of the administration's announcement, the Canadian government announced China and emerging Asian markets might be more receptive to Canadian oil.
The Keystone project is just the latest and most glaring example of where the federal government stands in the way of job creation. There is overwhelming recognition that the Keystone Pipeline project is the largest and most shovel-ready project in the country. Completion of the project carries with it the promise of immediate jobs for 20,000 workers, the potential for hundreds of thousands of additional ancillary jobs by 2035, and enhanced energy security for the United States.
It is unfathomable the administration is going to delay for more than a year a decision on Keystone. It is another year lost in returning people to work.
Safety and pipeline reliability are certainly essential, and that is what the past three years of meticulous environmental studies have been all about. So what argument is being used to delay the project? Opponents of the project contend there needs to be more study.
The project has been studied. It is time to act.
A Canadian company is asking if it would be permissible to move Canadian oil to refineries in the United States, at no cost to American taxpayers. The response it has received from this administration is to check back with us in 2013, maybe. That is unacceptable. We need to assist companies that want to put Americans to work and not stand in their way. We especially need to assist them in ways that secure America's energy future.
The American worker is the most productive in the world, and so many people thirst for good-paying jobs that would come with projects like Keystone.
If the government would only get out of the way, put politics aside and dedicate to empowering the American Worker, we could start digging ourselves out of this recession and get Americans back to work.
U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack of North Branch, Minn., represents Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, which includes Duluth and the Northland. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.