‘Mr. President, What Are You Thinking?’

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 18, 2012

As the above relates to President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, the answer is clear: politics.

Even though the only question the president had to answer was whether the 1,700-mile project is in the national interest, he settled on a different calculus – re-election politics.

Jobs and energy security…or politics? He chose politics, while continuing to offer, as he did yesterday, that he’s for “American-made energy that creates jobs."

Yet, in his rejection of the Keystone XL the president is rejecting jobs – 20,000 of them in the pipeline’s construction phase and up to a half-million more over time, as the Keystone XL would play a major part in full utilization of Canada’s oil sands.

The president is rejecting the advice of his own Council on Jobs and Competitiveness just a day earlier, that the U.S. needs an “all-in” energy strategy that pursues more American oil and natural gas, as well as the means to deliver those resources. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“What we see and what we hear from this administration are two different things. No place is this more clear than the decision today on the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama said last year that many of the shovel-ready jobs imagined by his stimulus program were ‘not as shovel-ready as we expected.’  But the Keystone XL pipeline would create 20,000 new U.S. construction-related jobs over the next two years. More importantly, it would help support the creation of half-a-million new jobs by 2035. But today … in a clear abdication of presidential leadership, the president will reject the Keystone XL pipeline. How can you say you are for jobs and reject the largest shovel-ready project in America today? Mr. President, what are you thinking?”

Simple: Politics.

The fact is you can’t be for infrastructure and for jobs – and be against actual projects that create jobs. You can’t be for working men and women and then deny them and thousands of other Americans real jobs with real paychecks. Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan:

“We are completely and totally disappointed. This is politics at its worst. Once again the President has sided with environmentalists instead of blue collar construction workers – even though environmental concerns were more than adequately addressed. Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this.”

Neither should other Americans as they judge this administration’s performance on energy and jobs. It has talked a good game but has little to show for it. It has dithered, studying the Keystone XL for more than three years, including two environmental reviews – contradicting the president’s suggestion Wednesday that the project hasn’t had enough review. Gerard:

“The president has had three years to make a fundamental decision: Is this in the national interest?...The president has missed an easy opportunity to do what’s in the best interest of the United States.”

Again, the question: What are you thinking, Mr. President? Politics. When the American people need leadership that results in jobs and a more secure country, politics.


Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.

Energy Tomorrow is a project of the American Petroleum Institute – the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry – speaking for the industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media.