Plans for the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline were dealt a serious blow a couple of weeks ago as President Obama declined to go forward with construction during his Administration. It’s a move that left many Americans scratching their heads while others cheered the decision as a victory for the environment. Count me as part of the former.
I’m not alone in my line of thinking. This is a project that is supported by 59% of Americans. It seemed odd that a President who is so acutely aware of public polling would reject a proposal that was supported by nearly three out of five citizens.
In recent months, the Administration declared climate change “an immediate risk to our national security.” And in the President’s worldview a pipeline carrying crude oil didn’t match his identity as an environmental crusader. But as green activists cheered outside the White House, I found myself wondering if this rejection did indeed make the homeland safer or any greener.
We are facing an unusually long war with an enemy that isn’t clearly defined. This conflict poses a grave threat, not only for our troops stationed abroad, but Americans everywhere. Does a pipeline, of which there are thousands in the United States already, really present the same type of risk? Everything my time in the military has taught me leads me to believe this isn’t the case.
There is no reason why homeland security and climate protection have to be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, when one objectively looks at the facts, that pipelines are the safest mode of liquid transport, it’s clear that KXL was our best option on the table. Ironically, the rejection by the President didn’t stop one drop of Canadian oil from being shipped to the US Gulf Coast. It’s still being shipped there by rail, every day, just like it always has.
KXL’s opponents also decried the project because it would have only provided a few thousand “temporary” jobs. But as any construction worker will tell you, all construction projects are temporary. Almost hypocritically, the President bemoans the lack of infrastructure investment by taxpayers then vetoes a major infrastructure project that was privately funded and was to be built on private land. I believe that a comprehensive national energy policy is needed for US national security, and the KXL pipeline could generate thousands of jobs, and reduce future consumer energy costs.
Environmental protection and putting Americans back to work is not an either or proposition. We can have both. Hopefully, in 14 months America will have a President that realizes that as well.
Corporal Harry Prestanski USMC (Ret.) lives in Phoenix . He is the Arizona volunteer state chairman of Vets4Energy.
Vets4Energy, a non-partisan nationwide organization of volunteer veterans, met with members of Congress regarding the importance of enacting a comprehensive energy policy that will strengthen our national security.