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Wednesday, 29 January 2014 10:30
Obama SOTU Speech Clogs Keystone Pipeline; Louisiana Officials Bristle
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obama-isaacPresident Obama’s State of the Union speech might have hit some emotional high notes but in the voices of some Louisiana lawmakers, on at least one key issue, its silence resonated low B-Flat. Prior to the State of the Union, Louisiana lawmakers across partisan lines expressed their desire for Obama to bring up the completion of the Keystone Pipeline System, but the President fell short of their expectations.

 The pipeline system ties crude oil and oil sand from the the northern parts of the country and Canada together with oil refineries in Louisiana and other Gulf States, but the fourth and controversial stage, Keystone XL, is awaiting U.S. Government approval. Not surprisingly, energy played a major part in the speech. Obama stated that “one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy.” He specifically emphasized the importance of natural gas and renewable energy sources, and urged the government to implement “a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it.” However, the disputed oil pipeline was not mentioned.

Congressman Charles W. Boustany (R-South Louisiana) stated that South Louisianians understand that job creation and economic growth “begin with the promotion of the energy industry” and that the Keystone XL pipeline is crucial to the oil and gas industry. Newly-elected Congressman, Vance McAllister (R-Swartz) was also disgruntled: "I also call on the president to approve the Keystone Pipeline to generate thousands of American jobs and increase domestic energy production." 

Perhaps the most strident criticism came from the most unlikely corner. Democratic U.S. Senator, Mary Landrieu, who is in the race of her life for re-election this year, and who is reported to be in line to be the next head of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the Senate, stated, “One of the quickest ways we can create jobs is by increasing our domestic energy production and taking smart steps toward energy independence. The Keystone Pipeline, and projects like this, will significantly improve the infrastructure that is necessary to support this increased production. Nearly three years ago, I urged this Administration to act swiftly to begin construction of this pipeline. I'm disappointed, as are many of my colleagues, that the Administration still has not acted despite the overwhelming economic and environmental evidence that favors immediate construction.”

As this is a heavy political year with mid-term elections, in a LAGOP statement, Spokesman Ryan Cross complained that President Obama’s failure to discuss the Keystone pipeline “isn’t fair to the people of Louisiana.”

The Louisiana Democratic Party also issued a statement post-speech.  Its statement praised the President, criticized current governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator David Vitter, who is a candidate for governor.Chair Karen Carter Peterson said:

“I applaud the president’s commitment to expanding opportunity and putting Americans back to work,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Our president is taking action in spite of Republicans like Senator Shutdown, David Vitter, and Congressman John Fleming, who can’t wait for ‘Round Two’ of the government shutdown

“Raising the minimum wage would help lift millions of Americans out of poverty, but it would also help stimulate the economy and grow the middle class. I hope Louisiana Republicans can look past partisan labels and support this common-sense proposal, which has the support of more than 70 percent of Americans. 

“Finally, we are inspired by the president’s pledge to make 2014 a year of action, and we are taking that message as a call to action for Louisiana families. If our governor continues to refuse federal Medicaid dollars for expanded access to affordable health care, Democratic legislators will do what it takes to help the hundreds of thousands of Louisianians who are falling into the ‘Jindal Gap.’”





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