By Malcom Glover
Employees of global pipe producer Welspun Tubular assembled at the company's plant near the Port of Little Rock Thursday to hear Republican Congressmen Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford of Arkansas promote a comprehensive national energy strategy.
Both representatives assert that President Barack Obama is playing politics and hamstringing the nation by refusing to grant permits for constructing the Keystone XL pipeline. After touring the plant and talking with Welspun officials, Griffin says inaction by the president could hurt Arkansas jobs.
"There are over 500 miles of pipe here, stacked, and waiting to be taken by TransCanada, [a company focused on natural gas transmission and power services], and waiting to be formed into the pipeline itself," said Griffin. "We have talked with the folks at Welspun about the impact of the delay in the Keystone pipeline and they made no bones about it. If this pipe is not put into the pipeline, then it will be dumped into the market and will reduce the price and it will negatively impact jobs here at Welspun which means layoffs."
Representative Crawford says the president should make a decision soon. He says his constituents in Arkansas's First Congressional District are tired of talk and want energy solutions.
"I think the timeline will largely be dictated by how long Canada is willing to wait," said Crawford. "Unfortunately, they have a partnership available to them with the Chinese. I would much rather deal with our close friends the Canadians then I would to have them push that business elsewhere into the market and we miss out on a great opportunity so I think that's going to be key to determining what the timeline is."
The Obama Administration sidelined construction of the 1,170 mile Keystone XL pipeline to ensure that it wouldn't compromise the health and safety of people living in surrounding areas.
In March, the president defended his record on oil drilling and ordered the government to fast-track an Oklahoma pipeline. At that time, Obama accused congressional Republicans of playing politics by not giving his administration enough time to review the Keystone plan.