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In Defiance of President Obama’s Rejection of Keystone Pipeline, Pa. Dems and GOP Criticize Obama and Some Vow To Fight On

By Ben Griffiths, Contributing Writer

Update: At this morning’s hearing, Rep. Doyle gave the following statement:

“The President hit the nail on the head in focusing his State of the Union speech on preserving the American Dream by creating jobs that can provide Americans with a good middle-class standard of living.  This country’s been losing middle class jobs for years now, at the same time as education, health care, and retirement costs have been skyrocketing.  Unless something is done, we will soon be living in a country where the vast majority of Americans struggle to eke out a meager existence while a few rich people at the top are the only ones with a decent standard of living.

“The President’s speech builds on the policies he’s put in place over the last 3 years – policies that halted the 2008 financial crisis, saved the US auto industry, got the economy back on track, and created more than 3 million private sector jobs over the last 22 months.

“I believe that focusing on manufacturing, energy, and workforce skills is the best way to grow our economy and create good jobs you can support a family on – and I’ve been working for years to keep manufacturing jobs here in Southwestern Pennsylvania and make our region a world leader in clean energy technology.  I’m very pleased that the President is making manufacturing and energy the centerpieces of his agenda for the coming year. “

Last Wednesday, President Obama announced he would not grant a Presidential permit to begin building a pipeline through the nation’s heartland. In the time since, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans have come out to criticize the President.

According to a memo released in advance of a House hearing this week, Republicans say, “Some estimates project the construction of the pipeline will create up to 20,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs.”

The White House said: “As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment.  As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied.  And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.”

The critics thought that the President should have ultimately decided to allow the pipeline to be built.

“The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline permit is a missed opportunity to drastically turn this economy around,” said 4th congressional district Rep. Jason Altmire in a statement. “This pipeline would have created thousands of new jobs and helped to ensure our energy independence. Make no mistake, this pipeline will be built, but now Canadian jobs will be created, and China and its markets will benefit from the oil transported through this pipeline.”

Rep. Altmire’s primary opponent, Rep. Mark Critz agreed that the pipeline should be built.

“I have said all along that if the states where this pipeline runs are supportive, then the federal government should not stand in the way of its construction,” said Critz in a statement. “I will continue to work to make this project a reality because of its immense implications to our country’s domestic energy, [and] economic and national security needs.”

Rep. Tim Murphy believes that the President hurt the country’s chances of becoming more energy independent in the short-term.

“After three years of waffling, President Obama’s final decision on the Keystone Pipeline is that American energy production and job creation is not in the national interest, said Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of the 18th district. “Instead of bringing significant new oil supplies to refineries in the United States, the President apparently prefers we continue to send $129 billion to OPEC countries and keep our unemployment rate hovering at ten percent.”

Republican Senator Pat Toomey also piled it on, noting that pro-pipeline opposition includes members of President’s own party.

“President Obama has been trying to campaign against a do-nothing Congress, but he is the one who is impeding job creation and economic growth in this country,” said Toomey. “The pipeline has broad bipartisan support in Congress, and it does not require any taxpayer dollars to build.”

In response to the President’s decision, Republicans introduced the North American Energy Access act, co-sponsored by Reps. Tim Murphy, Joe Pitts, Lou Barletta, Tom Marino, Mike Kelly and Bill Shuster which would force a permit to be granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission within 30 days.

On Wednesday morning, there is a subcommittee hearing in the House Energy and Commerce on the act. Rep. Mike Doyle is on the subcommittee that will host the hearing. Rep. Doyle voted in June in the House Energy and Commerce committee to speed up the permit process for the pipeline.

In November before the President declined to give the Presidential waiver, Rep. Joe Barton from Texas criticized the President for not taking a stand. Rep. Doyle said at that hearing in November: “I’ve sat here quietly … and I support the Keystone by the way, I don’t think it’s fair to put it on the president and say that he pulled the plug.”

Rep. Doyle did not release a statement after the President announced his decision last week.

Additional reporting done by Ben Hulac and Geoffrey Middleberg.

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