With the unemployment rate among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan exceeding 13 percent, the head of the nation's largest veterans organization expressed "deep disappointment" that President Obama denied a permit request for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
"This project would not only have provided thousands of shovel-ready jobs at a time when our economy desperately needs them, it would have reduced America's dependence on oil exports from the Middle East," said American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong.
"This isn't just an economic issue, but a national security issue as well," Wong pointed out. "Iran is threatening naval traffic in the Strait of Hormuz and piracy continues to be a problem. With gas prices again approaching $4 a gallon, this project is clearly in America's interest."
The $7 billion privately funded pipeline would carry an estimated 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, the Dakotas, Montana and Oklahoma to Gulf Coast refineries. It has undergone years of environmental review but must be approved by the State Department since it would cross an international border. The oil would be extracted from Canada's tar sands. Last summer, delegates to The American Legion's 93rd National Convention in Minneapolis passed Resolution 107 in which they urged all segments of the U.S. government to pursue and grant all required permits for the proposed pipeline "without further delay."
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., explained his disappointment with the president's decision in a statement to Bloomberg News. "The studying time is done," Lugar said. "The environmental concerns have been addressed. The job creation, economic and energy-security arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of building it. The president opposing pipeline construction is not in the best interest of the United States."
The president's rejection still leaves the door open for the company funding the project, TransCanada Corp., to re-apply once a new route is established.
"We hope that this project is not dead, but only delayed," Wong added. "While we feel it is needed now, the administration must find a way to address our economic needs and security concerns as soon as possible."
With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
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