On this date in 1973 President Richard Nixon, citing America’s energy needs, gave approval to build the Alaska Pipeline. “Nixon claimed the nation’s “dangerous reliance” on foreign oil, controlled mainly by the increasingly powerful, but politically unstable oil-rich nations of the Middle East, posed a threat to America’s economy,” reads this History Channel article on the occasion. “America had once relied on cheap domestic oil, but by the 1970s, dwindling supplies forced the nation to buy more expensive oil on the international market. An Arab oil embargo in 1973 exacerbated the problem. Saying that the conservation of existing domestic supplies was not enough, Nixon declared that America had to find and tap more oil resources closer to home.”
That pipeline was very controversial, with environmental activists predicting ecological disaster should it be built. That didn’t happen, of course, and the pipeline has become not only an engineering marvel but an important part of our national energy economy.
It’s fitting, then, that North Dakota Senator John Hoeven would be leading a coalition of Senators in demanding a meeting with President Obama on the building of the Keystone XL pipeline:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus led a bipartisan group of 18 senators today in calling for a meeting with President Obama to urge action on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. …
“The Keystone XL pipeline represents not only thousands of jobs and growth for the nation’s economy, but also a big step toward American energy independence,” Hoeven said. “We can become energy independent in America within five to seven years, but we must commit to moving forward with important projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.”
I think “energy Independence” is a fool’s errand. We’re never going to be energy independence, because it’s always going to make sense in some areas of our energy marketplace to import oil from other countries. That’s not a bad thing. That being said, our energy markets should be generally free to expand as they will, and impeding that growth does our nation harm.
Senator Hoeven is doing good work leading the charge on this issue. But the question is, where is Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp? She’s not a part of Hoeven’s effort. Rather, she’s appearing with hooker aficionado Eliot Spitzer on the far-left Current television network saying “we don’t know” in response to questions about when the Keystone XL pipeline will be built.
“I think the State Department and the president, now that down in Nebraska they’ve moved it off the Sandhills and they moved it off the Ogallala aquifer, I think you’re going to see approval,” Heitkamp told Spitzer. “Now, how soon that’s going to happen, we don’t know.”
The opportunity for Heitkamp to lead on these issues is now. She’s not seated in the Senate yet, but she has an opening to speak out. So far, she’s not taking it.