U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today strongly criticized President Obama's decision to kill the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, writing in a letter to the White House that the decision is a missed opportunity to secure America's energy future and to create tens of thousands of badly needed jobs for Americans.
As part of the payroll tax bill passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president in December 2011, President Obama was required to act on the Keystone XL permit within 60 days. Obama today said his administration has rejected the application for a construction permit for the proposed pipeline even though the states through which the pipeline would run had Ok'd it.
Isakson has been a strong proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and co-sponsored legislation to force the Obama administration to issue a construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Isakson also sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express his strong objections when the administration last year initially postponed a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election.
The full text Isakson's letter to President Obama is below.
January 18, 2012
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to respectfully express my strong objection to your decision today to reject the permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Rejecting the Keystone XL permit hampers America's ability to secure its energy future, and I urge you to reconsider your decision and instead approve the permit application.
As you know a requirement that you act on the Keystone XL permit within 60 days was contained in the payroll tax bill passed by the House and Senate at the end of last year. As you also know the State Department received the Keystone XL environmental permit application in September 2008, and has been reviewing it since then. Prior to passage of the 60 day provision, you had announced that you were postponing a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election, and specifically to the first quarter of 2013. In your statement today, you said that rejecting the pipeline " is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people." Congress wisely recognized that the State Department has had more than three years to review the permit application, and then acted in a bipartisan manner to ensure that you were compelled to take action without further delay on a permit of such critical importance to America's national security and energy security.
As you know the proposed 1,711-mile pipeline would carry energy extracted from Canada's oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast and in Oklahoma. In its December 2010 study, the Department of Energy found that imports of heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico are declining and the Keystone XL pipeline is necessary to offset those declines. The study also found that stranded Bakken crude in Montana and North Dakota would be able to be transported to major American refineries. Additionally, an Environmental Impact Study completed in August of this year by the State Department found that the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact. Energy extracted from the Canadian oil sands and sent to Houston's refineries would supply 500,000 barrels per day of oil and create over 13,000 jobs in the United States. Almost 900 companies based in the United States are exporting supplies and equipment to the Canadian oil sands because they see the potential the Canadian oil sands provide.
Other nations also see the vast energy potential in Canada. China, for example, has made an $11 billion investment in Canada's energy production. On the day when your Administration was announcing a delay of more than one year in deciding on the Keystone XL permit, news reports indicated that Canada's natural resources minister was in Asia to discuss more investment by China in Canada's energy fields. In October, Sinopec, which is majority-owned by the Chinese government, bought Canada's Daylight Energy for $2.2 billion, and last year Sinopec also spent $4.65 billion for a 9 percent stake in ConocoPhillips' Syncrude oil sands project in Alberta. In July, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which is wholly owned by the Chinese government, bought the Canadian oil company OPTI for $2 billion. Chinese oil companies are taking positions in Canada because they see the potential long-term energy security in these oil sands developments. Delaying or rejecting the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline ensures that developing nations such as China will continue to buy up more of the world's energy supply. Canada is one of our closest allies and is our largest trading partner. As we work to reduce American dependency on oil from the Middle East and other volatile regions, it makes sense to expedite, not delay, the Keystone XL pipeline and to partner with Canada in a mutually beneficial way to help develop Canada's energy resources.
Reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post had indicated that your original decision to delay action on this issue until 2013 may have been influenced by electoral politics relating to your reelection campaign. Since there is no apparent environmental or security reason to halt approval of this permit, I would hope that the politics of the 2012 election played no role in your decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline permit. Now more than ever is the time we should be developing and exploring all of America's energy resources, ensuring America's energy security, creating jobs for the American people, and stimulating the American economy. Instead we have moratoria on abundant oil and gas resources in our coastal waters and, with the exception of a few recent permits issued in 2011, the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Arctic. We also have a ban on recovering energy from areas in our Western states where scientists estimate that oil shale reserves could be three times as much as the amount of oil in Saudi Arabia.
Demand from developing nations such as China and India is dramatically increasing and supplies are facing regional instability from events in places such as Egypt, Libya, Iran, and Iraq. Your administration should work to be an ally, and not an impediment, in the effort to secure America's energy future. I strongly and respectfully urge you to reject the influence of outside interest groups that oppose the pipeline, to work instead to immediately increase America's energy security, to strengthen ties with one of America's strongest allies, and to create jobs in America by reversing the decision you made today and approving the Keystone XL pipeline. I appreciate your consideration of my views and stand ready to work with you in any way possible.
United States Senator