An ex Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., under the Bush Administration, says that the delay of the XL Keystone pipeline sends the message that “the United States is not open for business.” He calls the Obama decision a catastrophic cop out.
Trans Canada Pipelines, which has invested over $1 Billion in the project, still believes that the project will eventually approved. Obama came under heavy pressure from his left base, which is believed to have swayed his decision to kick the project down the road until after the 2012 election. President Obama cannot afford not to have his left base bring out the vote, if his re-election efforts are to succeed.
Canada was blind sighted by the decision, which came suddenly. Two comprehensive studies of the environmental impact have already been completed, both finding that the impact on the environment would be minimal. Trans Canada and its proponents claim that this is the safest pipeline ever build.
The delay also has a devastating economic impact. Port Arthur, Texas, where the pipeline is to terminate, has an unemployment rate of over 15%. The pipeline would have significantly reduced the jobless rate. On the Canadian side the start point of the pipeline, Hardesty, Alberta has made plans to coincide with the pipeline construction. The delay affects local business significantly and the town will have to go back to the drawing board.
Nebraska claims that it wants a rerouting of the pipeline due to the sensitive Sandhills Aquafer. Some believe that it is more about the subsidies farmers receive for crop production to support the ethanol industry. Those subsidies were set to double from 10% to 20% next year. Competition from the oil industry may thwart their fortunes.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to have a one on one bilateral meeting with President Obama today. Oh would it be great to be a fly on the wall. Harper has said in the past that the decision to approve the pipeline is a “no brainer”.
President Obama and the White House keep stressing that their top priority is jobs. This was his opportunity to prove it. You can’t get any more shovel ready projects than the XL Keystone pipeline. 20,000 jobs are at stake, not to speak of the billions of dollars that would be poured into the economy. While the U.S. continues to import oil from the Middle East, the oil from it’s northern neighbour is apparently too dirty for the environmentalists and the American President.
The project will, no doubt, be approved eventually. Not only did the President betray the trust of Canadians, where Obama is still relatively popular, but after the election, should he be re-elected, he will also betray his environmental base. A lose lose for everyone.
“This route has been studied and studied and studied,” he said. “It’s the longest permitting process in the history of the world, I think. It sends a bad message that we’re not open for business.”
Wilkins was ambassador to Canada during the Republican administration of former president George W. Bush.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday that the delay may kill project and could add momentum to efforts to open up the Asian market for Canadian oil.
The U.S. State Department announced the delay Thursday, saying it wanted to look at other possible routes for the $7-billion pipeline, which Calgary-based Trans Canada has proposed to carry mostly Canadian crude from the Alberta Oilsands to the U.S. Gulf coast.
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