By Rep. Ted Poe

Op-ed in The Washington Times

Mr. President, stop delaying for political gain. You have had three years to approve or deny the Keystone XL pipeline. The Nov. 1 deadline set by the House of Representatives has come and gone, blatantly ignored by the Senate, and now the administration has kicked the can down the road until first quarter 2013, conveniently right after the 2012 elections.

Immediate approval of this pipeline is the only option in the national interest of the United States. It is a golden opportunity for America. Americans are in need of a stable source of energy and they are thirsty for jobs. This project will provide both, free of cost to the taxpayers. It will enhance our national security, energy security and economic security.

The pipeline will inject energy and jobs into the United States - two things we desperately need to revive our economy. At a time when 14 million Americans are unemployed, it is inexplicable to wait any longer. It’s unforgivable to decide against job creation. It is estimated that this project would create thousands of well-paying jobs in America. It would also provide a consistent source of energy by decreasing our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern countries for oil. The United States would receive 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada through a pipeline that would end right in my congressional district in southeast Texas. This would increase the supply of oil in America. As we all learned in Economics 101, higher supply of a commodity lowers its price. In all aspects, this is a slam dunk for the American people.

Canada is one of our closest trading partners, and it is also our largest supplier of oil and natural gas. Our ally to the north is looking to expand its exports of oil sands, and it wants the United States to be its best customer. If the U.S. passes on the opportunity to grow this trading relationship, Canada will take its valuable product to other countries who are eager to increase their energy supply - like the Chinese. Canada won’t wait for U.S. political approval.

In recent weeks we have seen a rise in the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from radical environmentalists who are against this jobs- and energy-creating project all in the name of hypothetically saving the environment. They are so blinded by their hatred of “big oil” that they overlook the facts. Their resistance to this project is perplexing; pipelines are without a doubt the most cost-effective, safest and environmentally sound way to transport oil and natural gas. The environmental advocates say that the pipeline will discharge oil sands into our water supply and harm Americans. In reality, for every barrel of oil shipped across 1,000 miles, less than one teaspoon of liquid is lost from a pipeline. Transporting goods by pipeline also has the lowest carbon footprint compared with every other mode of transportation, including barge, truck or rail. Transporting oil through a pipeline is certainly safer then transportation on an oil tanker from Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps they think it would be a better idea to transport this crude oil on trucks and railroads. Consider this: a medium-sized pipeline (150,000 barrels a day) carries as much oil as more than 750 trucks or a 75-car train. A pipeline of this size (750,000 barrels a day) would require seven times those numbers. That means an additional 5,250 trucks on the road. What kind of carbon footprint will that leave? Even the State Department concluded in its environmental impact statement, “trucking would result in substantially higher greenhouse gas emissions and a higher risk of accidents than transport by pipeline.” Energy and job creation cannot be held hostage by fear-mongering and propaganda.

If it really is the No. 1 priority of this administration to create jobs, why is it putting off a decision for so long? Refusing energy and jobs from a stable ally through a privately funded pipeline built by Americans is mind-boggling. It’s time for the president to make a choice based on what’s best for the country and not what’s best for his re-election. This country needs energy and it needs jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline would provide both. America simply cannot afford for him to delay this project. Doing so would be a conscious decision not to provide relief to people who are ready to work and unable to afford expensive energy costs. This project is truly shovel-ready. Mr. President, saddle up and ride with us now. We can’t wait until after your campaign.

Rep. Ted Poe is a Republican from Texas. His district would be the terminus for the Keystone XL pipeline.