When talking jobs, candidates should focus on energy

As the 2012 candidates prepare to debate – twice – in New Hampshire this weekend, they will likely be sharpening their talking points about jobs and the economy, issues that the polls show are top-of-mind for voters. They would be remiss if they left the tens of thousand of energy-related jobs that have been forfeited by this administration’s need to appease its liberal environmentalist base.

President Obama’s politically opportunistic decision to postpone a ruling on the pipeline until after his election has led Trans Canada, the company building the pipeline, to seek opportunities to sell their vast reserves of oil elsewhere, like China. Apart from costing the country’s workforce an estimated 20,000 shovel-ready jobs and insuring our continued reliance on Middle Eastern oil, Obama’s punt on Keystone may cause prices to rise at the pump – something that is never popular with Americans, particularly when it comes time to vote.

From U.S. News & World Report:

Yet, fallout from the president’s Keystone XL delay may go far beyond the unemployed who were looking to the pipeline for potential job opportunities. His decision may cost all Americans when they drive up to the pump.

Though local energy production in Canada and North Dakota experienced significant increases this year, U.S. consumers failed to enjoy reduced energy prices from those supply bumps. The reason? Firms didn’t have the pipeline infrastructure necessary to move the large supplies of North American oil, which is stockpiled in Oklahoma and commonly referred to as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, to drivers from New York to Los Angeles and most major cities and rural towns in between.

Instead, our country had to import the much pricier Brent crude from the North Sea. Everyone—even those near the refineries—had to pay more because the national average oil price wasn’t able to be depressed as much as it could have been if we’d had the ability to transport U.S. resources to all domestic markets. The outliers increased the average price. As a result, U.S. prices were close to $20 more per barrel than necessary which, according to IHS Global Insight economists, correlates to the loss of 240,000 jobs and $65 billion in growth.

The National Taxpayers Union’s Pete Sepp agrees:

This suggests the president is making a calculation about a slice of his political base (voters disappointed over his environmental record) rather than acting on legitimate concerns and brokering an acceptable deal. And with this week’s rising tensions and the resulting climb in global energy prices, foot-dragging on development projects like Keystone will likely add to the anxiety of U.S. drivers, who’ve been experiencing ever higher gas prices. American workers, eager for the estimated 20,000 jobs XL’s construction would initially create, will be disappointed too.

Sepp further exposes this administration’s many contradictions when it comes to energy policy and job creation:

Lawmakers need to more carefully assess which budgeting choices deliver a net positive impact on our economy versus those that don’t. For instance, the $100 million cut from the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program (the program responsible for the Solyndra scandal) was a net positive and will hopefully mark the beginning of a wider effort to root out such subsidies. On the other hand, perennial calls for tax hikes on America’s oil sector threaten to undermine one of our country’s best job-creating industries.

The GOP candidates are missing a huge opportunity if they shy away from highlighting the missed opportunities to create thousands of jobs and further our energy independence at the same time. As First-in-the-Nation Primary voters, we can do our part to ensure we know where the candidates stand on job creation by submitting questions for Sunday’s NBC/Facebook here.

Author: Shawn Millerick

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