It was a harm-America-first tactic, the Obama administration’s sabotage of the Keystone XL pipeline. Keeping it from being built was anti-energy, anti-jobs, anti-consumer, anti-science, anti-security and anti-friendship with Canada. President Obama got in the way to please environmental lobbyists in a swamp that, in this respect, at least, President Donald Trump is draining.
On Tuesday, this new president of ours signed executive orders — remember them? — to restart work on the pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries as well as on the Dakota Access pipeline also halted for insupportable reasons. The State Department still has review work to do on Keystone XL, but guess what?
It investigated the project years ago, loads of scientists took part, volumes of details were produced and the environmentalist worry about climate consequences was dismissed.
Even if the crude oil was not used in America, the department noted, it would be used by some other country such as China, meaning that the greenhouse gas emissions would still make their way to the atmosphere. And while the pipeline would blessedly deliver 830,000 economy-boosting barrels a day to meet our undeniable energy needs, the actual climate effect would be scientifically verifiable spit in the ocean.
It is also said that pipelines have leaks, and some do, but we have 2.5 million miles of them in the United States. There happen to be risks with everything, and if we decided that this particular risk was too much, we would have another to worry about: giving up our modern way of life.
The benefits, meanwhile, would include thousands of construction jobs, and, oh, so what, some say, noting they would be temporary. Right. They would be. Projects get completed. Should we therefore quit counting construction jobs in our employment figures? By environmentalist calculations, I guess so.
Other pluses: This infrastructure project, being undertaken by a private Canadian company, won’t cost the United States much of anything. Gas prices could come down some and, the Wall Street Journal notes, local communities will get tax benefits in the millions. As a National Review writer has pointed out, this oil will be cheaper than the oil we get from the Middle East. It will be more secure. And it will be a boon for our ally and biggest trading partner, namely Canada.
So what about the Dakota Access pipeline? Despite a court ruling, the Obama administration blocked it, too, because of opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe fearing destruction of sacred grounds. We all know what horrible things have been done to Native Americans over the years, and sympathy was inevitable.
But, please note, the pipeline does not touch their reservation and the company building it went out of its way to identify 149 culturally sensitive sites, making sure nothing would be done to disturb any of them. The Sioux were invited by the company and public officials to come and talk and didn’t. At some point, you say case closed, as a federal judge in fact did.
Remember, too, that the project generated jobs in North Dakota, where the pipeline begins, and that energy will be supplied to Illinois, where it ends.
Along with announcing these moves forward in the interest of the country, Trump also scribbled his signature on another executive order. It told regulators to refashion an infrastructure permitting process that is unforgivably costly, takes forever and is more than occasionally irrelevant to anything. It’s not in the nature of bureaucracy to give up such delights, but maybe we will see some progress.
Trump, hardly bumble-free in his first days in office, has just undone a couple of Obama legacies that put America last, or something close to that.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.