by George R. Jarkesy, Jr., Jarkesy & Company
When looking for examples of Washington’s weak grasp of economic realities, you need to look no further than Nebraska, right in the middle of America’s heartland. There lies a political battle over the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, quickly reducing and eventually eliminating our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Our leadership in D.C., mainly the Obama Administration, has pushed back an approval decision until 2013, an obvious political ploy to avoid election year backlash (oh yeah, and maybe pick up more money and support from green donors!). WE need the oil and the 20,000 jobs TODAY! Yet, our politicians are dragging their feet and passing the buck to next year’s crop of elected officials. This is not the kind of leadership that we need, particularly on this critical issue that not only affects our economic well-being, but also our national security interests.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. already imports 25% of its oil from Canada – approximately 3 million barrels of our daily imports. The rest mostly comes from unstable Middle Eastern and African countries, as well as Venezuela and Mexico, which each face their own certain set of challenges. Instead of relying on unstable, and in some cases, unfriendly suppliers of oil, we need to bring more in from Canada and refine it here in the United States. Canada has already confirmed that the oil sands will be drilled. We are left with this simple question: do we want this long-term, stable, strategic oil supply and its multitude of economic benefits here, or do we want it to go abroad? China and other countries are hungry for Canada’s oil supplies, and salivate at the prospect of the US dropping this juicy opportunity from the table.
But let’s take a step back from the economic aspect and look at the national security implications. The US Navy has a vital mission in patrolling the world’s sea-lanes, and our security is tied to having the resources to fuel our military. With our strained relationships in the Middle East, and with China securing long-term supplies in oil producing countries around the world, our long term energy supply is vital to our national defense.
The environmental objections have already been overcome! Our own U.S. Department of State has released a report showing that the environmental impacts of the pipeline would be minimal, given technological improvements in pipeline safety. 25,000 miles of pipeline already run through the Ogallala Aquifer, with 2,000 of those in Nebraska, and THOUSANDS of oil wells have been drilled through the aquifer, resulting in 24 billion barrels of oil produced since 1930. Instead, the Administration has pandered to environmentalists and lawyers, despite this overwhelming evidence and crucial need.
For better or worse, our country is dependent on oil; not just for gasoline and other fuels, but also essentials such as plastics and fertilizers. We cannot let a reliable, friendly, and logistically convenient oil source pass us by, especially with a strained economy and soaring gas prices. Ignoring a close and readily accessible long-term energy supply is reckless, and I believe if we lose this opportunity, history will judge this administration harshly. Postponing this decision for one year will affect our country negatively for many generations to come!
George R. Jarkesy, Jr. is a Hedge Fund Manager, Entrepreneur and Chairman of the National Eagles and Angels Association
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