As the country tunes in to tonight’s State of the Union, Louisiana has pressing business with the President – the Keystone Pipeline. Earning both the House and Senate’s approval since it was initially proposed five years ago, final approval for the project awaits the President’s signature.
Louisiana Representatives yesterday expressed their hopes that President Obama will mention his plans for Keystone in tonight’s speech with Rep. Fleming (R-04) saying it was on his “wish list” for State of the Union topics. Rep. Boustany (R-03) said “the only thing blocking the [the Keystone Pipeline] is the President making a final decision.”
Canadian officials’ patience is wearing thin with President Obama as earlier this month Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird voiced his sentiments stating: “the time for Keystone is now. I’ll go further – the time for the decision on Keystone is now, even if it’s not the right one. We can’t continue in this state of limbo.” The Canadian government’s sentiments ring true for many across the country who would stand to benefit from a projected tens of thousands of new jobs created by the project.
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has been a Senate supporter of the Keystone Pipeline, despite recent evidence she has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Senators standing in the way of approval and construction of the project. The Senator also called herself “indispensible” to Louisiana in the US Senate, though she has been unable to secure any movement from a like-party Administration.
The National Review reported yesterday that the delay on Keystone may have actually harmed the environment citing domestic energy companies using rail transport, rather than pipeline. “Pipelines are inherently safer than rail for transporting oil because they can bypass population centers and fragile ecosystems.” While awaiting Keystone construction, “there has been an average of one large oil spill a month because of rail accidents.”
Further, the American Petroleum Institute released a study concluding the U.S. partnering with Canada on oil and gas production and refining could mean liquid oil independence for the United States by 2024.
Reuters reported yesterday “a decision against the pipeline could undercut Obama’s pledge to boost employment and U.S. energy security while alienating an important international ally and oil supplier.” Tonight’s speech could set the tone for the President’s energy agenda for the entire next year and potentially the remainder of his administration.