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Is this Administration Serious about Energy or the Economy?

by George Landrith

We are in the  fourth year of Barrack Obama’s presidency and the final two months of the election.  Finally, Obama is at least talking about the economy, jobs and energy. Sadly, he isn’t serious about any of them. He’s just running for re-election. He’s not announcing any real changes in policy or any new plans. He says this time, he will work and compromise with Congress.

But let’s look at the facts. What will his second term look like? The first term is your best gauge.

On energy, Obama has pursued an anti-energy policy and not surprisingly, energy prices have doubled during his presidency. He postponed for one year the decision on whether the U.S. will give approval to a Canadian-U.S. oil pipeline. This is quite odd for a man who has argued he could not wait on Congress to approve his second stimulus bill. But even the Democrats on Capitol Hill were wary. The bottom line is Obama is blocking the construction of the XL Keystone pipeline – 1,700 miles of pipeline to carry crude oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas.

The XL Keystone pipeline would pump at least 700,000 barrels of oil a day into the U.S. market. That is enough oil that we could completely stop importing oil from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran from whom we now import 637,000 barrels of oil a day.  Additionally, the Keystone XL pipeline would create 20,000 high-paying jobs and generate $5 billion in tax revenues. No tax dollars are needed to fund this project. All that is needed is the government’s approval for the project to move forward. But now the president who has said hundreds of times that he cannot wait, has decided to wait for a year.

Pipelines are historically safe. You may not realize it, but there are more than 168,000 miles of liquid pipelines throughout the nation safely and efficiently moving energy and raw materials that fuel our economy. In fact, there is an oil pipeline underground near my home. From walking in the woods and wading through the local streams near the pipeline, it is clear that it is environmentally safe. Additionally, there are more than 1.8 million miles of pipelines supplying natural gas to businesses and homes all across the nation. So a few more miles of pipeline cannot pose any real environmental problem. This is just a ruse.

Up until recently, the State Department was poised to approve of the Keystone XL pipeline. It was viewed as a huge economic plus, and it passed the environmental tests as well. But suddenly, the president who every day claims to be so concerned about job creation that he cannot wait for Congress, proves that it was all a cynical and disingenuous election year ploy.

The Obama Administration should have approved the Keystone XL pipeline. Doing so would have been evidence that Obama is doing something serious and not merely talking. But instead, Obama punted this decision until after the election – cynically thinking his liberal base will be pleased and that some moderate voters will hope he will approve the pipeline. There Obama goes again – voting “present” as he did 129 times while in the Illinois Senate. Sadly, Obama is all about politics and theatrics, not leadership.

Next time Obama blames Congress for not passing his jobs bill, you don’t need to remember that for the first two years of his presidency he had a compliant Democrat-controlled Congress that blindly did his bidding, yet he did nothing to fix the economy.

Next time Obama says he must act now with or without Congress, you do not need to remember that rather than focusing on jobs, he spent almost two years ramming the wildly unpopular Obamacare down our throats.

Next time Obama says it is time for Congress to stop waiting around, you don’t need to remember that even after a firm rebuke in the 2010 mid-term elections, Obama didn’t pivot and work on jobs.

Next time Obama pretends that he has been working full time to fix the economy, you don’t need to remember that even in 2011, he didn’t give his big job speech until after his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. And you don’t need to remember that he didn’t provide any supporting specifics until after yet another vacation. Magically, after three years of dithering, he couldn’t wait on Congress.

Next time, Obama blames Republicans in Congress, you do not need to remember that it was the Democrat-controlled Senate that voted down Obama’s tax-hiking, budget busting “jobs” bill last year, not the House Republicans.

All you need to remember is that when Barack Obama had a chance to create 20,000 high paying jobs at no cost to taxpayers, and to make America less dependent on Iranian oil, Obama said, “No thanks! We can wait!”

We cannot wait until next year to decide. The Canadians want to sell the oil to someone and if not us, then to the Chinese. Next year may be too late. But regardless, Obama’s decision to kick the can down the road for another year on pipeline proves that he is not serious when he says he cannot wait. Obama has been waiting and dithering since his election. Obama’s decision to delay, only proves it beyond any reasonable doubt.

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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.