Jason Stverak is the President of Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.
An expert in nonprofit journalism, Jason works to promote social welfare and civil betterment by leading initiatives that advance investigative journalism. His support of nonprofit journalism has played a vital role in exposing corruption in our elected officials and encouraging transparency in government. Through his leadership, Franklin Center has continued to grow and attract talented journalists.
Prior to Franklin Center, he was Regional Field Director for the Sam Adams Alliance, where he worked with state groups and associations committed to promoting the free market policies. Jason also served as North Dakota Executive Director for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee and spent six years as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Republican Party. Jason is a member of the association of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).
A native of Rapid City, SD, he received his BA in Foreign Service and Slavic Studies from Baylor University in 1996 with a minor in economics.
President Barack Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 22, 2012 in Cushing, Oklahoma. Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Pennington).
President Obama continued to drag his feet on the Keystone XL pipeline in an interview with The New York Times last weekend, downplaying the benefits the project will have on our economy. The president has had many opportunities to green-light this project, but instead has frustrated many with a litany of excuses and qualifications, vaguely offering that he would only build the pipeline if it were “in the country’s best interests.”
Although Obama and his environmental allies will never admit it, moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline is unquestionably in America’s best interests. Building and maintaining the pipeline could create as many as 20,000 jobs– many in construction and manufacturing, which were among the industries hit hardest by the recession. Obama campaigned in 2012 on reviving manufacturing and bringing jobs back to hard-working, middle class Americans, and giving his seal of approval to Keystone XL would be a very visible way for Obama to deliver on those promises.
Obama is also sashaying around the fact that Keystone XL represents the right way to raise revenue: by growing the economy and creating jobs. The thousands of Americans put to work by the pipeline would once again be paying into the system instead of collecting unemployment benefits, helping to reduce the federal deficit. In addition, the pipeline would generate over $5 billion in property taxes for state and local governments over its lifetime, allowing municipalities to balance budgets without raising taxes on families. The president, who has spoken time and again about the need to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, undoubtedly realizes what a boon Keystone XL would be.
The closer you look at the pipeline, the more evident the White House’s hypocrisy and willful ignorance becomes. After campaigning on helping middle class families pay their utility bills, Obama is searching for any excuse not to build a pipeline capable of carrying 830,000 barrels of oil into the United States each day, reducing home heating and fuel costs for American families by increasing both supply and global competition.
It’s not just our domestic prosperity but our national security that is threatened by Obama’s political games. The oil carried by Keystone would be equivalent to about half the oil we import from the Middle East, and every barrel we purchase from Canada decreases our dependence on OPEC–a cartel that’s driving up the cost of energy. What’s more, Canada has pledged to sell its Albertan oil reserves to China if the pipeline is not built, giving our greatest economic rival a leg up in the global energy market. By passing up a partnership with our most loyal economic ally, Obama would be playing directly into the hands of states hostile to our national interests.
The presence of China, the world’s biggest carbon polluter, should give Obama even further environmental imperative to build Keystone. If we reject Canada’s oil reserves, they will go to a nation with looser environmental standards than ours, and will be shipped by tankers, which create far more pollution than pipelines. It’s in the best interests of global carbon pollution that Canada’s oil is used responsibly here in the United States.
No matter from what angle he addresses the issue, Obama is quickly running short on excuses for delaying the pipeline project. He first objected to Keystone on grounds that it would disrupt Nebraska’s Sand Hills, a concern resolved in January when Nebraska’s governor approved a new route that avoids the sensitive region. Now he’s worried about carbon, despite a report by his own State Department confirming that building the pipeline will have a negligible effect on greenhouse gas emissions.
Obama’s true hangup is his sympathy for radical environmentalists, who would rather see our economy grind to a halt than see new sources of energy responsibly developed. With his straw-man arguments collapsing, it’s time for his to do his duty to the American people and get the pipeline built.