Within days of the Keystone decision, Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said his country would divert sales of the Keystone-intended oil to Asia. Translation: Those lost American blue-collar pipeline jobs are disappearing into the Asian sun. Incidentally, Mr. Harper has said he wants to turn Canada into an energy "superpower," exploiting its oil, gas and hydroelectric resources. Meanwhile, the American president shores up his environmental base in Hollywood and on campus. Perhaps our blue-collar work force should consider emigrating to Canada.
Recall as well the president's gut reaction in 2010 to the BP Gulf oil spill: an order shutting down deep-water drilling in U.S. waters. The effect on blue-collar workers in that industry was devastating. Writing in these pages this week, Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski described how Mexico, the Russians, Canada and even Cuba are moving to exploit oil and gas deposits adjacent to ours, while the Obama administration slow-walks new drilling permits.
Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Henninger argues that President Obama is leaving private sector workers out to dry on Opinion Journal. Photo: AP.
No subject sits more centrally in the American political debate than the economic plight of the middle class. Presumably that means people making between $50,000 and $175,000 a year. The president fashions himself their champion.
This surely is bunk. Mr. Obama is the champion of the public-sector middle class. Just as private business has become an abstraction to the new class of public-sector Democratic politicians and academics who populate the Obama administration, so too the blue-collar workers employed by them have become similarly abstracted.
Here comes the craziest twist: if the opponents of the XL succeed and prevent its construction, there is a strong possibility that Alberta’s oil sand-derived oil will be piped westward to Canada’s Pacific coast and loaded on supertankers going to Asia, to feed China’s grossly inefficient industries.
And there is more. The XL is to deliver an equivalent of about 6 percent of total U.S. crude oil consumption in 2010, a small share that the country should be able to do without. Indeed, it could have done that already in the past if it had steadily improved the performance of its vehicles rather than keeping it flat for two decades between 1986 and 2006.
The new pipeline would add just over 1 percent to the already existing network of crude oil and refined products lines that crisscross the United States and parts of Canada.
Either way, the United States will need oil imports for a long time to come, as even the fastest conceivable transition to non-fossil energies cannot be accomplished in a matter of one or two decades. If the United States chooses to cut itself off from its largest, most reliable, and most durable supply of crude oil, from where will it, with its continuing high use of transportation fuel, get its future imports? Crude oil production in two other major U.S. suppliers in the Western hemisphere, Mexico and Venezuela, has been declining (by, respectively, more than 20 percent and more than 15 percent between 2005 and 2011), and in the Middle East the United States faces enormous competition from China.
So what happened? “The administration,” reported the New York Times, “had in recent days been exploring ways to put off the decision until after the presidential election.” Exploring ways to improve the project? Hardly. Exploring ways to get past the election.
Obama’s decision was meant to appease his environmentalists. It’s already working. The president of the National Wildlife Federation told the Washington Post (online edition, November 10) that thousands of environmentalists who were galvanized to protest the pipeline would now support Obama in 2012. Moreover, a source told the Post, Obama campaign officials had concluded that “they do not pick up one vote from approving this project.”
Sure, the pipeline would have produced thousands of truly shovel-ready jobs. Sure, delay could forfeit to China a supremely important strategic asset — a nearby, highly reliable source of energy. But approval was calculated to be a political loss for the president. Easy choice.
It’s hard to think of a more clear-cut case of putting politics over nation. This from a president whose central campaign theme is that Republicans put party over nation, sacrificing country to crass political ends.
It's pretty huge news that really isn't making the rounds. This is the American president sabotaging our interests for the sake of his political career.