Keystone’s Approval Could Help Hispanic Workers
It was only days ago that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi graciously handed a gavel to Speaker of the House John Boehner during a cordial ceremony in which the two leaders of different parties showed kindness and friendship toward one another. Both also expressed their desires to work together towards legislation that benefits the American middle class. It seems, however, that might be where the collegiality ends and the bitter partisanship begins for the 114th legislative session. And unfortunately, that means popular measures that enjoy bipartisan support among Americans – like approving the final piece of the Keystone pipeline – will likely get further stalled due to political theatre.
The Keystone XL oil pipeline is not actually controversial. First, it is probably the safest way to move oil over land. Currently, crude oil is moved by a combination of pipelines, rail, and trucks. While all are safe methods, there still exists the possibility for derailments and there is an increased risk of accidents due to human error when moving by rail or truck. The boom in oil production has already pushed the limits of current pipeline infrastructure, and approving Keystone would make accidents less likely and thus safer for both the environment and human beings by shifting some of transportation to an additional method. Second – speaking of the environment – President Obama’s own State Department assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline is that it would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. Third, low and middle-income workers will benefit from the boost to the economy. Parts of the country that have already begun construction of the pipeline have seen incredible gains, and according to the same State Department analysis, over 42,000 construction jobs will be created. Keep in mind: construction took big a hit during the recession – an industry in which Latinos are dramatically overrepresented.
The above are just three of the many reasons why a majority of Americans want to see this project approved in some way, so it makes sense that Congressional Republicans consider this one of their top goals for 2015. Indeed, the House has already passed a version of the bill, and a Senate debate on amendments is expected to follow sometime next week. With Republicans now controlling both chambers, a bill approving construction would likely pass.
Despite the project’s popularity among the American people and the overwhelmingly positive gains to be made from its construction, the Obama administration has dragged its feet for over six years (as of this writing, 2,308 days to be exact) and already formally indicated it would veto this legislation – all with no real reason to do so. At a time in the New Year when many Americans are carrying out resolutions and making a fresh and positive start, it would be nice if Congress and the Obama Administration could find a way to work within their differences and actually see progress where it counts.