Business, Manufacturing Groups Send Letter to Obama on Keystone Pipeline

By Matt Cover | January 12, 2012 | 5:33pm EST

FILE - In ths Nov. 13, 2011 file photo, a gasoline tanker makes a delivery at a Sheetz Mini-Mart, in Altoona, Pa. Oil prices hit $100 per barrel for the first time in nearly four months as U.S. supplies dropped, and a pipeline deal promised to cut them further. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

( A group of 100 business and manufacturing groups has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to quickly approve the Keystone XL pipeline, saying it would be “irresponsible” for the president to halt the job-creating project.

“With your approval, this shovel-ready project will provide 20,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing in the next two years, and add tens of thousands of additional jobs throughout the economy in other sectors including service, retail and distribution,” the Jan. 11 letter said.

“With our nation’s stubbornly high unemployment, it would be irresponsible to let such good-paying jobs slip away.”

The letter, signed by such groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable, urges the president to approve the pipeline project quickly, saying that a myriad of industries would see new jobs created.

Citing a provision in the recently passed payroll tax holiday that directs the president to make a decision on the pipeline within the next few weeks, the letter said that environmental concerns should not stop the pipeline from being built.

“The State Department’s announcement that it was delaying a decision on Keystone XL cited a need to study an alternative route in Nebraska around the Sandhills region. The federal payroll tax legislation recently passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law allows the State Department and Nebraska as much time as necessary to identify and review a new route, while allowing construction to begin elsewhere along the pipeline route,” the letter states.

The White House announced in November that it would delay approval of the project – which runs from Canada to Texas – to allow the State Department more time to study the project.

Environmentalist groups and Nebraska politicians had raised concerns about the pipeline’s proposed route going through the state’s Sandhills regions. A major aquifer runs under the Sandhills region of Nebraska, and environmentalists and political leaders were worried that a potential leak in the pipeline might damage the aquifer.

The State Department must approve the project because it crosses an international boundary. Previously, the department had completed an environmental impact study of the pipeline’s original route, concluding that it would have minimal impact on the environment.

The project is politically toxic for Obama because it splits two key Democratic interest groups – unions whose members would benefit from the thousands of jobs it would create and environmentalists who oppose greater oil imports and fear ecological disaster.

The pipeline would connect Canada’s oil sands with refineries in Texas and Louisiana, giving America access to a new, friendlier source of oil.

Canada already supplies one fourth of America’s oil imports, and the letter claims that if the pipeline is built, America could double its imports from a far friendlier source than those in the Middle East.

“With the current situation in the Middle East, and tensions in the Strait of Hormuz continuing to rise, approving this pipeline is the right energy and national security policy for America.

“Canada is already our largest supplier of imported oil – almost 2.4 million barrels per day, or one fourth of our imports. With this proposed pipeline, our crude imports from Canada could reach 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what we currently import from the Persian Gulf. Enhancing our energy partnership with Canada will strengthen America’s energy future.”

Obama has less than 60 days to make a decision on the pipeline, either to allow it to continue or cancel it.

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