Day one layoffs

(Journal stock photo.)

As we begin a new Congress with a Democrat-led House of Representatives, a Democrat in the White House, and a 50-50 split in the Senate, I’m sure there will be plenty of policy disagreements ahead. But I am also hopeful that we will find ways to work together across the aisle to address the challenges facing Americans.

I was heartened to hear President Joe Biden talking about unity during his inauguration and pledging to be a president for all Americans. That’s why I was disappointed to see that one of his first actions as president was to yield to demands from the far-left wing of his party and sign an executive order canceling the Keystone XL pipeline—a project that was not just shovel-ready, but was well underway, and well on its way to providing good-paying jobs for thousands of Americans.

The Keystone XL project has already created 2,000 new jobs, and is estimated to support approximately 11,000 jobs over the course of its construction. Somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 of these jobs are expected to be in South Dakota. Missing out on these jobs and hundreds of millions in wages would be unfortunate at any time, but it’s particularly devastating given the many jobs that have already been lost during this pandemic.

And the Keystone pipeline’s benefits aren’t limited to good-paying jobs. The pipeline is expected to garner $100 million in property taxes annually along the route. These revenues, as well as the economic impact of easement payments, could be reinvested in our schools, rural communities, and local infrastructure.

The Biden administration is determined to transition away from oil and gasoline, but that is not something that can be done overnight. And the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline can actually move us toward a clean-energy future by allowing us to cut emissions in a sensible way. Modern pipelines provide a cleaner and safer way to transport oil, with the added benefit of alleviating rail traffic to free up capacity for our farmers.

It’s not just that the pipeline itself would be a cleaner upgrade to our energy infrastructure. Rather, it would be paired with $1.7 billion in renewable energy pledged to fully offset its operations. TC Energy, the pipeline’s operator, adapted its original plans to address environmental and social concerns raised when the pipeline was first reviewed by the Obama administration. The 1.6 gigawatts of renewable energy would rank TC Energy among the highest corporate backers of renewable energy purchases, directly supporting President Biden’s plan to bolster green-energy investments in the United States.

Due to these added investments, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—a staunch liberal—is supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline and even included it in Canada’s clean energy roadmap. And the pipeline has the additional benefit of deepening our economic ties to Canada, one of our most important trading partners.

I have no illusions about how some feel about pipelines, but cancelling this project ignores the reality of our nation’s energy demands and denies a timely conversation about infrastructure modernization. Keystone XL has been through multiple exhaustive environmental reviews, and the pledged renewable investments make it a model for environmentally responsible oil transport. Still, the extreme environmental wing of the Democrat Party has chosen to demand the elimination of Keystone XL as a symbol of Democrats’ commitment to the far left’s environmental agenda—no matter how many jobs are lost in the process. I’m disappointed that President Biden went along with their demands at the expense of hardworking Americans, and I will continue to press for affordable energy solutions, American jobs and modern infrastructure.

—Sen. John Thune is a South Dakota Republican.