WASHINGTON — Arkansas' congressional delegation expressed disappointment Wednesday in President Barack Obama's decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
WASHINGTON — Arkansas’ congressional delegation expressed disappointment Wednesday in President Barack Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
“President Obama decided to create jobs in China instead of the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock.
Griffin followed House Speaker John Boehner at a Capitol new conference of GOP leaders who claimed the decision to block the pipeline would cost thousands of American jobs. Griffin pointed to Welspun Tubular, a Little Rock company that has 500 miles of pipe at its facility awaiting shipment for the pipeline that would transport 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
Welspun laid off about 60 employees after the Obama administration announced that it planned to delay a decision until after the 2012 elections.
“They have all this pipe — hundreds of miles of pipe — that is going to flood the market and reduce the cost of pipe and they may have to lay off more,” Griffin said.
U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and John Boozman, R-Ark., and Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, Mike Ross, D-Prescott, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, issued statements shortly after Wednesday’s announcement expressing their disappointment.
Obama issued a statement saying that he had concurred with a recommendation from the U.S. State Department to deny the application. The decision, Obama said, was not based on merit but because Republicans in Congress had insisted on a “rushed and arbitrary deadline” that did not allow enough time for a full assessment of the health, safety and environmental impact of the pipeline.
When Congress passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday last month, the bill included a requirement that the Obama administration make a decision on Keystone within 60 days. Boehner said the deal gave Obama the right to reject the pipeline only if he found it was not in the national interest.
The State Department left open the possibility that the pipeline still could be built, noting that its recommendation did not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects. Canada is considering an alternative pipeline that would carry the crude oil west to the Pacific where it could be shipped to China for refining.
Pipeline developer TransCanada said Wednesday it plans to reapply for the construction permit for the $7 billion project, which the company claims would create 20,000 U.S. jobs.
“While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL. Plans are already under way on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer.
“I strongly disagree with President Obama’s decision,” Pryor said. “This project will sustain and create jobs in the United States.”
Rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline “kills hundreds of jobs in Arkansas,” Boozman said.
“Unfortunately, this decision reflects the president’s top concern is protecting his own job,” he said.
Ross said the pipeline would create jobs and help reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil.
“I strongly urge the president to reconsider,” he said.
Womack said that he was disappointed that Obama put politics ahead of job creation.
“Everywhere I go, people are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ This president isn’t interested in jobs until after his re-election. That is sad,” Womack said. “The rejection of the Keystone Project Wednesday shows that this administration would rather pander to the environmental lobby than create thousands of new jobs,” Crawford said.
Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the pipeline was rejected for the “right reasons.”
“His decision represents a triumph of truth over Big Oil’s bullying tactics and its disinformation campaign with wildly exaggerated jobs claims,” Beinecke said.
“Rather than bringing America energy security, the pipeline would have transported dirty Canadian tar sands oil through America’s heartlands — for export to other countries.”
William Robert Irvin, president of American Rivers, also applauded the decision.
“A dirty oil pipeline that threatens our clean water is not the clean energy solution our country needs,” Irvin said. The pipeline had initially come under intense opposition in Nebraska, where Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, had raised concerns that the pipeline would pass through a sensitive aquifer.
However, TransCanada agreed to divert the project away from the Sandhills.
Heineman has since expressed support for a speedy decision.