By. Mark J. Landry
One constant of the Obama Administration is its continued delay of the Keystone XL pipeline. While the pipeline’s initial construction would create tens-of-thousands of “shovel ready” jobs –then create tens-of-thousands more oil refining jobs along the Gulf Coast upon completion– the total project would be an economic windfall for everyone involved, and also bring the United States one step closer to energy independence. The economic impact of the pipeline should make its approve all but certain, yet the pipeline’s fate remains in limbo because President Obama continues to placate to his donors –both the environmentalist and those making money thanks to the lack of the pipeline, But President Obama is term-limited, and the fate of the Democrat controlled Senate will hinge on Mary Landrieu’s reelection to the Senate. Obama –in an October surprise-like move– could cling victory for Landrieu by simply approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
Before going farther it is important to point out one of the main reasons this pipeline is waiting in limbo. The pipeline’s interstate construction is a states right issue –which means the states have to agree to let the pipeline through– but the oil and beginning of the pipeline is in Canada which must be signed-off by the United States State Department. The Obama Administration has refused to approve the pipeline because of the way the oil is getting to the Gulf Coast now –by railway– and who owns the railways –Warren Buffet. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF Railways) –transporter of the Canadian oil– is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway to which Warren Buffet is Chairman, President & CEO. Buffet was a major donor and fundraiser for Obama in 2008 and 2012, as well as, a major donor to Democrats throughout the country. Mary Landrieu was also a recipient of Buffet’s donations. BNSF Railways has retained the services of lobbyist Alpine Group. BNSF Railways give $120,000 in 2010, $120,000 in 2012, and $120,000 in 2013, to Alpine Group which then donated to Landrieu’s campaign –$14,299 in 2010, $26,499 in 2012, and $23,000 so far in 2014 at according to the Federal Election Commission.
On February 6,2014, Max Baucus –Senate from Montana– was confirmed as the new Ambassador to China. Baucus’ departure opened the door for Landrieu to chair the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. For Louisiana –a major energy producing state– having a Senator chairing this committee would be an economic dream –if that Senator can deliver. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be a major a accomplishment for the petrochemical industry of Louisiana –which is the home to sixteen oil refineries. Landrieu needs the pipeline as something to bring back to the voting populous, and without it she has failed to deliver. On May 1, 2014, Landrieu –with the aid for several other Senators– introduced legislation to immediately authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but is legislation is meaningless unless Obama signs the bill into law.
Obama will spend the Summer doing a cost analysis to determine rather Democrats can retain control of the Senate with or without the pipeline’s approval. Will environmentalist donate if the pipeline is approve; will unions donate if the pipeline is not approved; and most importantly, will at risk candidates –like Landrieu– win reelection if the pipeline is not approved; are a few of the questions that will be answered during Obama’s analysis. In the end –it is my belief– Obama will have no choice but to approve the pipeline, because the problems of economic stagnation, high unemployment, and energy cost can be eased with the approval.
I have no doubt Obama will prolong approval until just weeks –if not days– away from the 2014 November elections. By doing this Obama will give those Senators –in trouble– something to bring in votes. For Landrieu, approval –so close to the election– will make voters forget most the political rhetoric tossed at her during the campaign, because after all, she would have delivered for Louisiana.