Pipeline Delay Gives Obama a Fundraising Bonanza

by Marita Noon on November 23, 2011

A week has passed since President Obama made his shocking announcement delaying the Keystone XL pipeline decision until after the presidential election. The news has been met with cries of victory and sighs of disappointment, but the tactic shouldn’t have surprised anyone as it totally fits with his ideology.

Additionally, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, handed the environmentalists a win.

First, we all know that the President is fundamentally opposed to all carbon-based fuels (think Solyndra, et al)—so the pipeline’s approval was a longshot. But it would have created thousands of true shovel-ready jobs without a dollar of taxpayer money—many of which would have been union (not to mention the spin-off jobs).

The pipeline’s approval would have made the unions happy, while angering the environmentalists. Two of Obama’s solid funders were in conflict—one shouting in one ear, the other in the other ear (drowning out the voice of the American public). Waiting for the decision, watchers wondered which base held more sway.

The delay announcement, however, is a possible fundraising coup.

In April, the President announced that he would raise a record-breaking $1 billion for his reelection campaign. To date, fundraising has not been as strong as expected.

In August, when the Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline “reaffirmed the environmental integrity of the project,” environmental groups threatened to pull their support for President Obama in the upcoming election if he approved the project—some calling his environmental record disappointing and dismal. Because they have no place else to go, Obama expects them to stick with him.

Not only will environmentalists likely stick with the president, his apparent quandary invites their input—only this time, not in his ear, in his pocket.

We all know that President Obama is not immune to the influence of donors on his decisions. With less than twelve months until the 2012 election, both the unions and the environmentalists will be buying—oops, I mean vying for—his favor. While some are calling his punt indecisive or a debacle, it could be a brilliant fundraising tactic as both sides over-donate in support of their positions.

We also know that the Obama administration supports higher gas prices. The Keystone XL pipeline would have provided more stability in oil supply and pricing at a time when crude oil from Mexico and Venezuela is declining. The pipeline would have provided refiners in the Gulf region with a secure supply—and a supply from a friendly source. Less supply means higher prices. Without the XL pipeline on the horizon, prices are predicted to increase as they did following the delay announcement. Higher oil prices translate to higher prices at the pump. With the cover of environmental concerns as the cause, President Obama could put the pipeline off and raise gas prices without the average person realizing his responsibility for the increasing costs. With higher gasoline prices, the Government Motors Chevy Volt becomes more attractive—giving the president a win/win.

So President Obama chose to appease the environmental base and raise gas prices rather than to support the jobs that he claims to want. Additionally, the pipeline would have brought foreign money into the United States through increased exports of refined gasoline and provided a strong signal to the world markets that America is putting a long-term sustained strategy for expanding the domestic oil supplies we will need for decades to come. Once again, he has made a decision as America’s campaigner-in-chief rather that America’s chief champion.

While the President’s mind may have been made up regarding the Keystone XL pipeline on January 20, 2009, TransCanada made it easy for him.

TransCanada expected that the pipeline would be routinely approved—all previous cross-border pipeline requests have been granted. They went through all the open houses and public meetings, did the environmental impact studies, and endured the most exhaustive and detailed review ever conducted for a crude oil pipeline. Nebraska, and most of the United States, is already a web of pipelines. However, they chose the cheapest route for the Keystone XL pipeline—which took it through the environmentally controversial area of Nebraska’s Sand Hills. By choosing the short route, rather than adding about 250 miles of pipeline, they gave the environmentalists an unlikely alliance: Nebraska’s Republican lawmakers and traditionally conservative farmers. Because the Republicans opposed the pipeline, it gave Obama additional cover—after all, even the locals didn’t want it. Had they been willing to move the pipeline to parallel the existing Keystone pipeline, avoiding the Sand Hills, it could through without the environmental agitation planting fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

One month before President Obama made his delay announcement, the TransCanada president of energy and oil pipelines met with Nebraska state legislators. He told them: “We understand that the best solution from your perspective is to move the route. We don’t believe that is an option for us.” However, once the delay announcement was made, TransCanada has quickly agreed to re-rerouting as proposed by the Nebraska state legislature. Now they are pushing for an expedited review of the alternate route—which could allow the project to begin before the 2012 elections.

Environmentalists, angry over President Obama’s perceived weakness regarding his loosening of proposed EPA regulations, demonstrated for months to push their point—with the Center for Biological Diversity promising to keep up the public pressure. Previously, public and industry pressure made President Obama withdraw the EPA Ozone regulations. Note: public pressure works.

As America is in an economic war, we need what the Keystone XL pipeline has to offer. Keep the pressure on President Obama. Now that TransCanada has agreed to re-routing, they’ve called his bluff. Call the White House (202-456-1111) and tell President Obama to expedite the review and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Of course, if we would develop our own domestic resources, we wouldn’t need Canada’s and they could send it to China who is eager to help build a Canadian pipeline to the west.

Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, has just been released.

business daily November 24, 2011 at 10:32 pm

The delay announcement came amid considerable environmental activism in opposition to the project—even threats that this voting bloc would sit out the 2012 election if its members don’t get their way. It appears the President’s move to delay is meant to secure the green funding and support he needs now, while leaving the door open to approving this important pipeline if re-elected. While politically savvy, the real casualty is the country. One need to only look at the impact this short-sighted decision has had on U.S. energy prices. Moreover, there is real concern his actions will result in this $7 billion USD privately funded shovel ready opportunity to slip away altogether. It calls to mind the Clinton Campaign’s famous slogan from the 1992 presidential election in which Clinton intimated it is all about the economy, and the President would be well advised to revisit Mr. Clinton’s slogan.

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