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Republicans should ride the Keystone Pipeline into the White House

Last week, House republicans passed the payroll tax cut for the middle class scheduled to go into effect on January 1.  The purpose of the cut is to prevent a tax increase of about 2% from every middle class American’s paycheck beginning on January 1.  Obviously republicans had to pass this the bill as a significant amount of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Republicans also performed a bit of political jujitsu by attaching a rider  to the measure that dealt with speeding up approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Approval of the pipeline would lead to cheap oil and lots of permanent jobs for Americans from the north to the south.  Win-win right?

No.

Republicans have Obama right where they want him.

The Obama administration will very likely oppose the pipeline.  If Obama is stupid enough to oppose this pipeline to jobs and energy, republicans could carve out ten percentage points from his approval ratings by the end of January.  Republicans could make this pipeline the seminal issue  of 2012.  Every Congressmen, every POTUS candidate should be hitting him over the head with this.  Republicans couldn’t have asked for a better narrative — is President Obama more concerned with getting America working again or pleasing his special interest groups.

The narrative has already been written this latest act is simply the slam-dunk nail-in-the-coffin.  When the economy was reeling two years ago Obama imposed a massive healthcare burden on America’s businesses.  As people try to get ahead, EPA has been quietly tightening regs that may serve to hamper the recovery.

Now, Obama would rather reject jobs, energy and good foreign policy than upset the environmental left.

Republicans need to make Obama choose between denying the Keystone Pipeline & re-election.  That is how bad this fiasco should hurt him if the House plays this right.  And he deserves it, he is a President trying to climb out of a recession for goodness sakes.  Republicans should make him bleed on this.

Conservatives are under no illusions, if Obama rejects the Pipeline in February, voters will have forgotten by November, but Republicans should hound him so hard on this that the support Obama loses at the beginning of the year will be too great to come back from.  It will be the basis for us to build the “he’s a nice guy, but has no idea how to bring the economy back” argument.

The bill

The practice of un-germane riders should not be employed with regularity.  However, in this instance, House Republicans have the right idea.  This President is going to be forced into making a presidential decision.  President Obama for purely political reasons, has put off his approval or disapproval of the pipeline until January 2013.  The left is claiming that it needs longer to evaluate whether the pipeline will be safe.  Conveniently, this timeline coincides with Obama’s re-election strategy.

The truth

Here are the facts: anyone who doesn’t think there is a risk of an oil spill when you send oil spewing across a continent is ignorant or lying.  There is a certain amount of danger that comes along with innovation and sometimes the BP oil spill happens.  We have to resolve to do better next time.  However, danger doesn’t stop us from innovating.  Danger can’t stop us from creating jobs or using energy.  On the climate change front, there has got to be a way to slow the effects of climate change that doesn’t force America to tie one hand behind its back in the most competitive economy of all time.  There has to be a better way.

We should do all we can to make sure that the pipeline is installed safely.  The job of bringing the oil to the Alberta surface is a job that is outside our jurisdiction.  We can be responsible while moving quickly.  If Obama wanted the pipeline, he could ensure that tests for safety and appropriate regulations were  finished and expressed before Valentine’s Day.  The question isn’t whether we can finish testing soon, the question is whether the President wants the oil in the first place.

The Environmental Danger

Environmental opponents of the Pipeline cite the danger that always comes with the territory when society’s build and innovate.  They worry that if there was a spill, it could pollute the Ogallala Aquifer used for agriculture.  Like anything else, this is a legitimate danger and we are fortunate to have people holding businesses accountable for the dangers their actions present, but that doesn’t mean those people call the shots.

But oil spills isn’t the source of the real opposition to Keystone.  Their real opposition comes from their fear that building the pipeline would enable the Alberta tar sands in Canada to be usurped and that this could increase global warming.  Enviros argue that the extraction and transportation of the oil could produce up to three times more warming gases than traditional oil and therefore oppose it.  Essentially, they worry that they aren’t getting enough “bang for their buck” or that we won’t receive the amount of energy necessary to shoot this amount of carbon into the air.  The left is arguing that this one project could render global warming irreversible.

As with anything else, when two opposing parties are each claiming diametrically opposed results, the truth can be found somewhere in the middle.  Contrary to what some on the right would say, there is always the danger of an oil spill and burrowing deep into the Earth is likely to release long stored warming gases that could impact the climate.  Contrary to what the left would have us believe, not every environmental action is the end of society as we know it.  Responsibly moving forward should be the point we agree on.

Foreign Policy

The Keystone Pipeline will be bringing oil down from the third largest oil field in the world to America to be refined.  It is located in North America.  This is a win-win situation for Americans.  When we buy oil from Canada, we bolster a friend as well as our own economy.  Conversely, by not buying oil from Middle Eastern and South American countries we “dis-enable” dictators to stay in power by drying up their constant flow of income.  This is what happens all too often.  Oil producing countries do little to grow their economies but accept oil royalties while their people suffer.  The sale of oil simply gives these regimes enough money to stave off revolution, allowing dictators to live lavishly, while leaving nothing for their people.

But the most important point cannot be highlighted enough.  Canada has not pledged to sell the oil to the U.S. only.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has warned President Obama that if we don’t buy the oil, China and Russia will.  One way or another, intelligent countries use their black gold to prosper.  By buying cheap oil here at home, we deprive the Chinese and Russians of the bargain that we ourselves are receiving.  Overall, building this pipeline is a win-win-win on the foreign policy front.  We can help slightly relieve our reliance on foreign oil, deprive OPEC nations of the proceeds, build up at home and help our allies to the north.

If that weren’t bad enough, sending the oil across the ocean will use a lot more energy than funneling it down to Texas.  Once one comes to grips with the fact that the world is not going to leave perfectly good oil in the ground, adopting the pipeline is the responsible environmental position to take as it will release less GHS’s if continents use their resources at home rather than importing and exporting them.

A winning issue dropped in our laps

The Keystone Pipeline is set to create 13,000 private sector American jobs.  It wasn’t until recently that Obama stopped crowing about his jobs plan known as stimulus 2.0.  The “jobs” plan included a bevy of pet projects and stimulus projects to supposedly create jobs, now Obama is faced with the opportunity and he instead bows to a small but powerful interest group within his own party.

It seems like many environmentalists still don’t get it on this issue.  Oil becomes scarcer by the day.  It is going to be used.  Canada holds a valuable commodity.  If Obama refuses to allow the pipeline it is a lose-lose situation for America.  Canada’s conservative government and profit driven businesses want to grow their economy.  And they are going to do it with or without us.

During a recession when most people can’t afford to fill up their gas tanks all the way to Full, due to constantly rising prices, opposition to this pipeline is unreasonable.

Either way, republicans may get their pipeline.  Either this year or in 2013 with a Republican President.  I smell blood in the water, I only hope republicans have enough sense to buckle down on this one it is a very thoughtful Christmas gift from the White House to Republicans.

The question we should be aiming to answer is not economic growth and stability OR a clean environment.  The question we should be asking is how do we do both.  That is the way to a permanent majority for either political party.

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