On Wednesday the Obama Administration again rejected the construction of an oil pipeline, the Keystone XL, that would have carried oil 1,700 miles from Canada to refineries in the United States. The pipeline would have been the largest infrastructure project in the United States with an estimated cost of $7 billion. It is estimated that Keystone XL would have created 10-20,000 jobs.
President Obama apparently indicated to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, that the pipeline would be approved after the November election. Environmentalists are a major constituency of the Democratic Party, and they oppose the pipeline for many reasons but primarily because they believe that killing the project will stop the production of unrefined oil from Canadian tar sands. This is folly because the Chinese are more than willing to buy the oil, so the oil will be produced, and it will be consumed somewhere.
The United States imports dangerously large volumes of crude oil, but it also has massive resources that could be used to reduce our dependence on unfriendly governments who produce oil. Yet, our current government has anti-energy policies that will inevitably lead to more importing and higher prices.
Oddly enough President Obama chose to go to Disney World on Thursday (1/19) to press the flesh and promote tourism in Florida. Florida has an unemployment rate of 10.0%, and it depends greatly on tourism. It has Disney World and all the nearby entertainment parks. It has a large cruise ship industry, and it has a wonderful climate and beaches that people visit from all over the world (e.g., South Beach, Miami).
How do people get to Florida to enjoy these various tourist activities? They consume a pretty substantial amount of fossil fuel like the stuff we wont be getting from the Keystone XL pipeline. As energy prices climb due to lack of production, the health of the vacation and entertainment industries will be imperiled. I hope some Floridians asked the president about that.
Furthermore, the political Left hates energy production and the economic productivity it brings. It doesnt seem to have occurred to them that one of the reasons our standard of living is so high is that we use these fuels to run engines that increase our real productivity. Take a look at the History Channels program Modern Marvels sometime. Almost all the episodes rely on the use of fuel or electricity to run machinery that expands human productivity enormously.
The environmental movement has a basic problem with this fact. Remember that in 1992, Al Gore wrote in his book, Earth in the Balance, that the internal combustion engine posed a greater threat to the United States than actual military enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Engines of various kinds have been one of the factors that have allowed mankind to escape the grinding poverty it had known for millennia.
The United States has 55,000 miles of oil-carrying pipelines, and Keystone XL would have expanded that total only marginally. That was not the problem for the environmentalists. They just want to shut down all new energy production except for inefficient renewable energy (wind, solar) that has no hope of powering our economy. The long-term continuation of policies like this will have profound effects on the ability of the United States to grow economically and increase the standard of living for American families. More basically, it will help determine whether many families will be able to heat there homes economically.
The American people are going to have to choose the vision of reality they endorse.