There is growing pressure on the White House, now that the elections are over, for Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The project would bring Canadian tar sands-oil down through the States to refineries on our Gulf Coast. One fly in the ointment for the Obama administration is after UN Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Capitol Hill, a review of her finances shows that she is invested in TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline. How this might impact her promotion to head the State Department is just one question to be answered? Another is Obama’s dilemma between two core constituency groups, labor unions, who favor the construction jobs the Keystone pipeline would provide, and environmentalists who oppose it.
The $7 Billion dollar project would create a substantial number of jobs. As many as 20,000 jobs might be created just to construct the pipeline along with several thousand jobs for its maintenance. Issues over the path of the pipeline have been resolved, so there is little reason to prevent construction from going forward.
The only issue that remains to be resolved is whether or not Obama wants America to continue towards a path of becoming more energy independent, even an major exporter of oil, coal and natural gas. While much attention has been focused on the Keystone pipeline, another major project under consideration is to develop three major ′coal ports′ in the Pacific Northwest to ship American coal to China and India. These ports would be located in Oregon and Washington state and so far, the local politicians are opposing the move under pressure from environmentalists.
The potential jobs created would be about 1,000 per port, along with helping to keep coal mining jobs alive in an era where domestic power plants are being shutdown. Most of the jobs outside of the ports to be created would be in Wyoming, sight of the Powder River Basin coal deposits. Environmentalists oppose mining there, as well as the over all impact of coal on the globe with respect to ′climate change.′ Residents in the port communities fear health concerns from coal dust, as the coal is transported in open-top train carriers. Some believe that just the diesel exhaust from increased train traffic would be harmful.
So will Barack Obama approve the Keystone XL pipeline? Will the White House support job creation to help their union allies, or block the project to keep environmentalists happy? A major obstacle may lie with Susan Rice over her investments in TransCanada, the company behind the project to send tar sand oil to refineries on our Gulf Coast. Many on Capitol Hill question her possible succession to become head of the State Department. But for Obama, the decision comes down to a choice between jobs or keeping the Greenies happy.