‘Shallow politics’ at root of Keystone delay, Chamber CEO says

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top business lobbyist on Wednesday blamed long delays vetting the Keystone XL pipeline on “shallow domestic politics.”

In his annual State of American Business address, Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue suggested the scrutiny of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed oil pipeline is alienating Canada and hurting the U.S. economy.  Federal review of the pipeline, which would carry crude from Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, now is approaching its sixth year.

Proponents say the pipeline’s construction would create thousands of jobs, while environmentalists fear it will hasten climate change.

“We have idled American workers and deeply offended our most important ally for the sake of shallow domestic politics,” Donohue said. “We are calling on the Obama administration to put American jobs before special interest politics and approve this project now.”

More delays: Lawmakers want Keystone XL decision delayed

It’s not quite clear how many jobs would be fostered — both short-term work during construction or permanent positions — if Keystone XL got the okay.

President Barack Obama has said the most realistic estimates are about 2,000 jobs during the construction phase and fewer than 100 over the long term.

TransCanada has said as many as 6,500 jobs could be created annually during two years of Keystone XL construction (higher than the State Department’s prediction of 3,900 each year).

Overall, the State Department estimates Keystone Xl would directly and indirectly support as many as 42,100 jobs.

Donohue’s comments come as the State Department readies a final environmental analysis of the pipeline, which would transport to 900,000 barrels a day of crude from Alberta, Canada to the oil hub in Cushing, Okla. There it would connect with a previously constructed TransCanada Corp. pipeline sending supplies to Gulf Coast refineries.

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Protests or not, they have a pipeline to build