Ryan budget mandates approval of pipeline

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Ryan introduced the 2013 House budget plan Tuesday
Photo credit www.npr.org

The proposed federal budget introduced Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., isn’t limited to mere dollars and cents — it also covers barrels and cubic feet — of oil and natural gas, that is.

The Ryan budget includes a provision to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from the Canadian oil sands to U.S. Gulf oil refineries, as well as a requirement to open up federal lands for oil and gas production.

The Obama administration has vacillated on the Keystone XL pipeline out of fear of antagonizing the environmentalists, bitterly opposed to the project. On the other hand, if the administration rejects the pipeline, it risks alienating labor, long a traditional part of its base.

The U.S. State Department introduced a report in February giving the project a “green light.” If the oil isn’t sent to the United States, it will be sold elsewhere, more-than-likely China. Therefore, rejecting the project would have no net effect on the global environment.

Canada has long emphasized the “win-win” aspect of the project for America. Its Minister for Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, made the case at IHS CERAWeek 2013, according to its website.

By any objective measure the most responsible source (for imported oil) is Canada. … There’s enough oil in the oil sands to meet the U.S. need for imported oil for at least the next 100 years. This could mean, with additional U.S. oil, independence for North America by 2030. What a great thing energy independence would be for both our countries.

The second energy provision in the Ryan budget — opening up public lands for oil and gas production — is another major GOP sticking point.

“Our budget opens these lands to development, so families will have affordable energy,” Ryan wrote to the Wall Street Journal according to The Hill.

This is of special concern to Republicans given that nearly 30 percent of U.S. land is publicly held. In Alaska, a huge oil producer, that figure rises to 61 percent.

Although gas and oil development isn’t a budgetary matter in the purest sense, it was included to make it clear to the White House that energy independence is a GOP priority.

The ball is now in the Obama administration’s court. Will it lob, fire back or miss the ball altogether?

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