Keystone K Street calculation: Obama tears page from McGuinty’s playbook

For political reasons, the U.S. president has put the kibosh on TransCanada’s plan to extend the Keystone pipeline from Cushing Oklahoma to Houston. That project would have immediately created 6,500 high-paid, high-skilled construction jobs, along with thousands more spinofff jobs. The employment situation in the U.S. has been persistently bad through Obama’s presidency, and you wonder what tipping point the country is approaching. On one hand there is this serious, persistent unemployment; on the other hand, banks are doing just swimmingly well and Wall Street execs are back to receiving enormous bonuses. Meanwhile, the federal government seems more interested in appeasing rich, Hollywood-supported “environmental” lobbies in Washington than jump-starting major job-creation and energy security projects like Keystone.

Even diehard Obama supporters like Mark Shields admit that on this jobs-versus-environment issue, the environment lobby won. Those who follow Shields, mostly in his regular Friday appearances along with David Brooks on the PBS Newshour, know he represents a very articulate and strenuous traditionalist liberal view—especially when it comes to working people and jobs. He has been locked on the plight of working-class Americans through the current recession, and over the past year has relentlessly analyzed the high-level political situation in the U.S. from the viewpoint of jobs and working class voters.

On Friday, Shields appeared deeply disappointed in Obama’s capitulation to loud environmental lobbyists at the expense of working people, as well as in how that will inevitably play in the 2012 electoral political game. The Republicans will harp on this, and if the employment picture does not improve between now and the election, they will score points.

Was this move to appease the green lobby a smart political gamble? Possibly. The president appears to have torn a page from the playbook of Dalton McGuinty, of all people. In the recent Ontario election, McGuinty consciously and deliberately appealed to affluent downtown Toronto environmentalists, at the risk of losing critical rural districts where opposition to wind turbines is overwhelming. He lost those rural seats but kept the downtown seats, squeaking to a very bare victory.

Obama’s campaign kick-off advertising appeals in exactly the same way to exactly the same crowd. Scroll to 09:50 of the following clip, which is from the Newshour of January 22:

Watch Shields, Brooks on Romney’s Message, Gingrich’s Defense, Santorum’s Struggles on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Shields and Brooks don’t often agree, but they’re in perfect agreement over the Keystone decision: it’s substantively a terrible decision both for jobs and the environment.

So the big question is, will Obama’s strategic decision to court the “environmental” lobby at the expense of the Big Labor lobby help him or hurt him as the presidential election year progresses?

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11 years ago

So now you are a Big Oil supporter? You know the Trojans that make all the money from wind development.

This is an incredibly good outcome for Canadian Patriots as the oil can now be refined and used in Canada to replace foreign imports greatly improving Canada’s national security.

Obama’s new SMR announcement will create many thousands more man years of work in the US than Keystone ever would.

Steve Aplin
11 years ago
Reply to  seth

Seth, I’m not so much a supporter of Big Oil as I’m an opponent of Big Environment. The latter is a worse enemy of the real environment than Big Oil.

As for refining oil in Canada, I’m with you there. Unfortunately, the feds aren’t. I think that that might bear a re-examination if Northern Gateway runs into problems similar to Keystone.

And SMRs — of course that’s a great development. But let’s remember that lots of anti-nukes love SMRs because they don’t think they will ever be deployed. And let’s also remember that PTAC (oil research lobby) is a member of the NGNP alliance, and NGNP is the nuclear technology that will transform the transportation energy economy.

11 years ago

Canada is still in the dark ages in energy policy still dominated by Big Oil and the Hydrocarbon industry. Canada’s Slowpoke Reactor R&D since early 80’s now Canada’s nukes shrunk to non-existance in small reactor technology. Pity how a vibrant national nuke culture was destroyed by Big Enviro zealots.
SMRs are the future globally for efficent energy independence even for the most imporatnt group to benefit the Ratepayer.