TransCanada Corp. is reapplying for a federal permit to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and there are plenty of good conservative reasons to urge President Obama — who kiboshed Keystone in January — to allow it this time. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) manage to find none of them:
The reasons for approving the pipeline are straightforward: It's a shovel-ready project that's great for our economy. It would bring oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, and would pick up American oil produced in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska along the way.
Keystone XL is exactly the type of world-class, private-sector infrastructure project that a nation mired in debt, deeply dependent on expensive foreign oil and desperate for jobs should embrace. Its construction would ensure a secure, long-term supply of oil from a close ally and provide well-paying jobs for thousands of Americans.
Writing in the Washington Times, Murkowski and Vitter make no mention of free markets in energy or free trade, nor do they appear disposed to believe the state should avoid interfering in peaceful commerce between its citizens and those of other countries. There isn't even a to-be-sure in there noting the concerns of property owners whose lives and livelihoods stand in the way of the world-class transnational project.
Instead, Keystone XL is worth doing because it's a "shovel ready…infrastructure project" that would boost "our economy" and "provide well-paying jobs." Why not throw in a "multiplier effect" and a "summer of recovery" while you're at it?
I recently changed my registration to Republican, so maybe I'm overly sensitive when my new GOP buddies talk like Democrats. Undoubtedly the party of constitutional principle and limited government can make real arguments for Obama to allow the project? Sure enough, Murkowski and Vitter have another big reason for supporting Keystone: Because if our government doesn't protect our economy, the Chinese will come and take it:
At least two projects are now under way that will allow Canada to send more of its oil through alternative pipelines to ports on its west coast, where it can be shipped to markets in Asia.
Chief among those markets is China, which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited just days after Mr. Obama's initial rejection of Keystone. There's no question China wants oil—from Canada and anywhere else it can get it. China is already investing heavily in the Canadian energy sector and appears eager to take on the vast supply of Alberta oil that the Obama administration has rejected.
Canada is taking notice—and taking steps to ensure it can meet China's growing appetite for energy. The latest budget introduced by Canada's federal government would reduce both the amount of time it takes to complete environmental assessments and the number of reviewers. Mr. Harper and others in Canada's government clearly recognize the potential for long-term economic prosperity that increased oil production can bring.
America is now in a race with China for Canada's substantial energy resources.
I have no hope for any of the Murkowskis, but Vitter voted against TARP and gets a grade of 85 percent (an uncharacterized B!) from Club for Growth. In the Senate, he's what passes for pro-market. The Washington Times isn't exactly the Democrat-controlled media. If there's any place to make the argument that Canadian oil sheikhs in their toques have a right to do business south of the border, this is it.
Instead, Vitter and Murkowski urge the president to approve Keystone for the jobs and the China-bashing. He's already got his union cronies telling him that.