Here's the main problem with indications the administration might not decide on the Keystone XL pipeline permit by the end of this year as it previously committed to do: The jobs the pipeline could create were needed yesterday.
That's right. In an economy with 14 million Americans looking for work, the 20,000 jobs TransCanada says would be created over the project's two-year construction phase would be more than welcome - as they would've been six months ago - or a year ago. Longer term? The Keystone XL is an integral part of fully utilizing Canada's oil sands, which the Canadian Energy Research Institute says would generate an additional 500,000 U.S. jobs by 2035.
Yet, the administration's pipeline review, which hit the three-year mark Sept. 19, may go longer than promised. Last week the Associated Press, citing an unidentified State Department official, said the administration might delay its decision until next year - a decision that typically takes no more than 18 months to two years. Now: 1,137 days and still counting.
Each additional day's delay is hard on a few levels. First, there are the people who need those pipeline-related jobs. Joblessness is fraught with anxiety and poses economic danger to families. Delaying the Keystone XL decision is frustrating to those who would be working now if the usual review timeframe had been followed. I once heard someone say that it wouldn't matter when the Keystone XL is approved; the jobs would be created sooner or later. That's no comfort to a person who's been out of work a week, a month or a year or more. Every day matters. Every week of lost income is lost potential.
Working men and women want these jobs now. "This project means jobs -- and jobs for our members," James Kimball, chief economist for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said in August. "We think that big construction projects (and) infrastructure projects such as this project and others are a fast and good way to put a large number of people to work quickly. This project will put approximately 1,300 to 1,500 new teamsters to work on the pipeline."
Delay means delayed benefit from our relationship with Canada. API's Cindy Schild:
"For every dollar an American spends on Canadian goods, 90 cents is spent by Canadians on American goods and services. That is something you don't see happen with other countries. This is just another reason why approval of the pipeline is most certainly in our nation's interest. Bringing more oil from Canada has clear jobs, economic and energy security advantages."
Energy security = trusting that the energy we need to run our economy and support our way of life will be there in the future. API President and CEO Jack Gerard last week in Indianapolis:
"The Keystone XL pipeline is clearly in the national interest because it provides more energy security for the United States as we bring in more of our needed crude oil from Canada to provide for the demand we have here in this country, to create jobs and to fuel our domestic economy."
Most people probably share the State Department's concern that the Keystone XL project gets a thorough review. Well, it has. The project has had three environmental assessments, each concluding that risk from the pipeline would be minimal. In addition, State held a series of public hearings across the country. This issue has had a full airing. Questions have been asked and answered, fears dispelled.
It's time for a decision in favor of the pipeline - for American jobs, for energy, for a more secure energy future that would come from a closer partnership with our neighbor and ally.