We’ve all heard the old saying “never look a gift horse in the mouth.”  When it comes to the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project, President Obama appears to have looked the horse in the mouth, put it in the barn and locked the door. I strongly urge the President to approve what is clearly a win-win proposition for America. Further delay is not in our national interest.

We all remember the President’s promise in 2009 that his huge $825 billion spending bill would unleash a flood of shovel-ready jobs in the beleaguered U.S. construction industry. Yet the jobs never materialized.  Last September, President Obama finally admitted that the “shovel- ready program wasn’t quite as shovel ready as we thought.”

But now the President has an amazing opportunity to approve a real shovel-ready project. The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline will create an estimated 20,000 American jobs, at no expense to taxpayers, and bring over 1 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S. from our Canadian neighbors

His inaction seems inexplicable and, frankly, indefensible, for a number of reasons.

First, the total jobs denied us will probably far exceed the estimated 20,000. Keystone XL stands ready to put some 13,000 Americans to work to construct the actual pipeline. These would be pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, and heavy equipment operators, among others. Another 7,000 manufacturing jobs would be created across the U.S. What’s more, thousands of additional spin-off jobs likely would be created by the increased demand for local goods and services along the pipeline route.

Second, the President’s stated justification for delay, environmental concerns, has been addressed and put to rest. The U.S. State Department conducted a comprehensive review and its findings are conclusive:  the pipeline poses minimal environmental risks to soil, wetlands, water resources, vegetation, and fish and wildlife, and it will create few greenhouse-gas emissions. Keystone XL will transport oil that is very similar to oil already being safely transported and processed by other pipelines across the U.S, and its pipeline will be the newest, strongest and most advanced in North America. Over time, pipelines have proven to be the safest way to transport crude oil.

Third, Keystone XL has stated its willingness to work with states and localities to reroute the pipeline, if necessary, and to reach agreements to compensate landowners along the proposed route. 

Fourth, the potential harm would be not just economic, but strategic as well. Should we continue to say no, Canadian Prime Minister Harper has made clear his intent to ship the oil overseas, most likely to China. Thus, we would deny ourselves a secure source of energy, even as global tensions are rising, oil prices are rising, and Iran is threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz, the world’s lifeline for energy supplies. The President’s former National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, has warned against the folly of leaving America more vulnerable in a world filled with bad actors. His advice should be heeded.

Mr. President, our economy is starved for jobs. As parts of the Middle-East remain volatile, we must put our nation one important step closer to energy resources outside regions hostile to the US. This is no time to look a gift horse in the mouth. Please forget the politics and do what is right for America. 

Linda McMahon is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate