Sending a big fat hint to President Barack Obama about how to resolve Washington’s budget and debt-ceiling impasse, 85-year-old Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens gave a perfect rationale to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Designed to bring Canadian oil shale from Calgary to Houston, the Keystone XL pipeline is a big bargaining chip for the Republican Party. While not directly related to the current budget stalemate, approving the Keystone XL pipeline would open the door to the GOP logjam. Looking for any concession from the president, the massive construction project would create thousands of new jobs and help create oil U.S. energy independence into the foreseeable future. Keystone would make “OPEC obsolete,” said Pickens, underscoring the point to the White House that fossil fuels are still a key part of America’s energy future.
No matter how much Obama would like alternative energy to go forward, he knows that fossil fuels still drive American industry in today’s economy. Whatever happens in the future is anyone’s guess. Pickens has done his utmost to promote natural gas-fired power plants, trucks, busses and automobiles. Picken’s industries have made natural gas a bountiful natural resource for popular consumption. While few—other than local, state and federal governments—have jumped on the natural gas bandwagon, Pickens sees the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to assert fossil fuel independence from Middle East. “Canadians say they have 250 billion barrels [of oil]. That’s exactly what the Saudis claim to have,” said Pickens, pushing Obama to reconsider the XL Keystone pipeline he rejected Jan. 18, 2012. Now’s a perfect time for Obama to kill two birds with one stone.
Whether he wants to admit it or not, Barack must go to the table with the GOP to resolve the current budget and debt-ceiling impasse. Obama’s right to resist negotiating at the barrel of a gun but wrong to take things so personally. He’s forgets what it’s like to be the minority party, where winning any concession pay’s rich dividends. Rejecting the idea of going to the table out-of-hand, Obama slapped the GOP in the face, pushing Boehner and the Tea Party back on their heels. While few believe both parties would let the government default, Obama must suck it up, no matter how objectionable, and give Republicans something to crow about. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline with sufficient environmental protections would give the GOP a shot in the arm. “You’re sitting there with the same amount of oil available to the United States and Canada . . .as Saudi Arabia,” said Pickens.
Whatever the objections from environmentalists about promoting oil-sands or the “hydraulic fracking” industry, California Gov. Jerry Brown—ordinarily a friend of environmentalists—supports oil fracking in the state. “Gov. Brown supports hydraulic fracturing,” said Mark Nechodom, head of California’s Conservation Department. Reconsidering the Keystone XL pipeline would be a perfect way for Obama to help resolve the current budget and debt ceiling impasse. Approving the XL pipeline would reassure GOP leadership that the government would receive a nice tax windfall from a multimillion-dollar construction project. Helping create U.S. energy independence from foreign oil would demonstrate Obama’s commitment to growing the economy. “What you should do is put Canada, Mexico and the United States together,” said Pickens, advocating a new North American energy market.
Meeting behind closed doors, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met with House Minority Leader former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to find common ground in the budget and debt-ceiling stalemate. While nothing was said about the Keystone XL pipeline, it’s a perfect compromise for the president more concerned about moving ahead with Obamacare. Granting corporations a year reprieve on complying with Obamacare gave the GOP the perfect out to exempt individuals. While Obama counts on mandatory enrollments to generate sufficient capital, it wouldn’t kill the rollout to exempt individuals from fines for one-year with verified financial hardship. Whatever environmental problems the Keystone XL poses, it pales in comparison to current impasse threatening the U.S. economy. U.S. officials should be able to work out the Keystone XL’s environmental bugs.
Whether Obama and U.S. environmentalists like it or not, the U.S. and Canada are moving full-steam ahead with hydraulic fracking. If Obama stonewalls the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadians will find alternative ways to get the oil to market. Approving the pipeline could be the key to U.S. energy independence and, at the same time, the perfect way to break Washington’s current gridlock. “At some point we have to move away from fossil fuels and I’m using this moment to lead a crusade in America to move away from fossil fuels,” said Obama 2012. Given the need for U.S. energy indpendence and the need to resolve the current budget and debt-ceiling impasse, approving the Keystone XL pipeline might be the perfect solution. There’s enough support in the GOP to at least pass a budget resolution and temporary debt increase if the White House gets creative in the present give-and-take.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.