Keystone is a winning issue
By Deroy Murdock
With his recent swing-state bus tour behind him, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should plan his next road trip. Romney should ride along the envisioned route of the Keystone XL pipeline. Along the way, he should invoke, meet, and even appear with Democrats and labor leaders who agree with him on Keystone and are frustrated with President Obama's obstructionism on this vital, job-rich energy venture.
Romney should remind voters of their stark choice this November: The former Massachusetts governor favors the 2,480-mile pipeline. Each day, the completed Keystone system would deliver up to 1.4 million barrels of friendly oil from Hardisty, Canada, to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. America's northern neighbor is a NATO ally whose brave soldiers stormed Normandy Beach beside U.S. GIs. Canada's 950 military trainers serve in Afghanistan along with Americans in uniform.
President Obama opposes Keystone, preferring instead to continue undiminished U.S. shipments of greenbacks to Middle Eastern tyrants whose subjects have murdered Americans by the thousands and conspire to do so again.
As Romney's bus follows Keystone's path to the Gulf of Mexico, he should tell Montanans what their Democratic U.S. senator, Jon Tester, said about this endeavor.
"I am disappointed in the president's decision," Testor stated after Obama on January 18 killed TransCanada's application to build Keystone. He added: "I have long supported responsibly building this pipeline with the highest safety standards and with respect for private property rights."
In North Dakota, Romney should cite former state attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. She called Keystone a "jobs program" and lamented that Obama's decision created "a missed opportunity to put Americans to work." Her campaign website promises: "As Senator, Heitkamp will fight alongside anyone who agrees that it's time to move the Keystone pipeline forward – even if it means upsetting members of her own party."
Rolling into South Dakota, Romney should invite rank-and-file members of the Laborers' International Union of North America Local 620 to join him near Keystone's prospective course. These construction workers, whose industry peers endure 14.2 percent unemployment nationwide, likely would echo LIUNA general president Terry O'Sullivan.
"We are completely and totally disappointed," O'Sullivan said after Obama scotched Keystone. "This is politics at its worst. . . . The administration and environmentalists have blown the whistle on workers trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Instead of celebrating their victory by hugging a tree, they should hug a jobless construction worker because they're the ones who are going to need it."
Oklahoma boasts several Democratic state lawmakers who concur with Romney on Keystone. They should welcome him to the Sooner State.
"With unemployment stubbornly high throughout many parts of the country, the pipeline is expected to create approximately 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in the United States," Democratic state representative Steve Kouplen noted as he pleaded with Obama to authorize this initiative. "It could also generate more than $5.2 billion in tax revenue to the Keystone XL corridor states."
"Because the pipeline will travel through Oklahoma, the safety of the pipeline is a top concern," state senator Susan Paddack, Democratic Caucus vice chair, similarly argued. "TransCanada has agreed to meet an additional 57 safety requirements not required for any other pipeline project – making it the safest pipeline ever constructed in the United States."
After crossing into the Lone Star State, Romney should emphasize that Texas congressmen Henry Cuellar, Charles A. Gonzalez, Al Green, Gene Green, Ruben Hinojosa, and Sheila Jackson Lee were among 22 U.S. House Democrats who wrote Obama last fall in a quixotic bid to secure his endorsement of this "shovel-ready project," as they called it. As they observed, "Keystone XL Pipeline will inject $20 billion of private sector investment investment into the American economy, create 20,000 direct jobs, spur the creation of 118,000 spin-off jobs, pay out $5 billion in taxes to local counties over the project's lifetime, bolster America's energy security, and strengthen our national security."
As he finally reaches Port Arthur, Mitt Romney should stand atop his bus and shout: "Barack Obama will not approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. But I will!"
New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Jarobin Gilbert of Engage America, with which Murdock is a Thought Leader, contributed research to this piece. This article originally appeared on National Review Online.