Ohio Valley Lawmakers Blast Obama’s Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

WHEELING - Area members of Congress roundly condemned President Barack Obama's decision Friday to block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline after seven years of review.

Although their statements expressed little surprise at Obama's decision, foreshadowed by comments the president made as a bill approving the pipeline made its way through Congress in January, local lawmakers said the project - for which TransCanada applied in September 2008, when George W. Bush was still president - would not only have provided jobs but a path to energy independence.

Sen. Joe Manchin said the Keystone Pipeline would have provided the safest possible method for transporting oil, as well as a chance to buy oil from an ally, Canada.

"In my opinion, this decision was based purely on political desires and not policy facts," Manchin, D-W.Va., said. "The facts are that multiple State Department studies have all concluded that the pipeline will have no significant impact on our environment, and this project would have created over 20,000 direct jobs."

There's been plenty of argument over Keystone's jobs impact, with detractors pointing out that all but a few dozen of the jobs included in proponents' higher-end estimates are temporary construction and manufacturing jobs that wouldn't have lasted after the pipeline's completion.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said approval of the project should have been "a no-brainer."

"After more than seven years of politically motivated delays and obstruction, President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is a major disappointment to American families who can't afford higher energy costs and fewer job opportunities. ... Its only downside is the threat to the president's anti-fossil fuel agenda, which has already crippled West Virginia's economy," Capito said.

Rejection of the Keystone Pipeline won't stop oil from being produced and used, but merely means economic opportunity will be created elsewhere, according to Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.

"President Obama's decision to reject the Keystone Pipeline is yet another example of him siding with extreme environmentalists over the interests of working Americans," he said. "Keystone has been studied and analyzed for the last seven years and has the support of the American people, a bipartisan majority in Congress, labor unions and business, but the president chose to disregard all that."

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said the only thing that surprised him about Obama's decision was how long it took.

"The lights may be on at the White House today, but no one is home. ... We've seen time and again over the last seven years how this administration puts politics over policy. In this case, the decision was purely political and ideological. It's a shame, and the real losers are the American people," Johnson said.

By:  Ian Hicks
Source: The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register