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Heidi Heitkamp, Published January 21 2012

Obama made wrong call on Keystone

President Barack Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong decision, and another example of what’s wrong with politics and Washington these days. It’s time to put partisanship aside, do what’s right for the country and build this pipeline.

The Keystone pipeline would mean billions of dollars invested in our economy when we need it most, and tens of thousands of well-paid construction jobs at a time when too many Americans are out of work. It would bring new business opportunities for the small businesses that would support this huge construction project, from gravel pits to Main Street diners.

Keystone would help lower prices at the gas pump for consumers and small businesses, and help us reduce our reliance on oil imports from the Middle East. It would allow our Canadian allies to ship their oil to the United States instead of China.

Those are all benefits for North Dakota and the nation. There’s another plus for our state – oil flowing through the Keystone pipeline would mean fewer tankers on our roads. North Dakota highways are taking a beating from the oil industry traffic, becoming more dangerous every day for truckers and families alike. The increased state revenues that pipeline construction brings would help us fix the potholes and keep everybody safer.

The president’s decision is wrong for the economy, and the timing is problematic as well. The Keystone pipeline is a massive project that passes through many jurisdictions, requiring a long lead time. Unnecessary delays cost money, and long delays on big projects mean big money. These delays also try the patience of the American public. When people complain about their government, this is just the sort of thing they’re complaining about.

American consumers, and that’s all of us, need this pipeline. American domestic oil producers have been pressing for this project for a long time. We know that we don’t have enough domestic oil to meet the country’s demand and our current course is unsustainable.

The Keystone pipeline won’t solve all our energy problems, but it is part of the solution. Yet Washington politicians have once again proved unable, or unwilling, to do the right thing. I will work with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., representatives of the energy industry and anybody, Republican or Democrat, to help turn this economy around. When it comes to the pipeline, I have three words of advice: Get it done.

Heitkamp, former North Dakota attorney general, is the announced Democratic-NPL candidate

for the U.S. Senate.