Time is Now for Pres. Obama’s Overdue Support for Keystone XL Pipeline

The Indiana Chamber supports the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline as a means to reduce our national dependence on unstable governments, improve our national security, strengthen ties with an important ally and promote the production of Canadian oil. Based on a recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll, most of the country agrees.

Here’s a recent summary of the Chamber’s position:

Indiana and our country are deeply dependent on foreign oil sources from countries that are typically not our friends. Canada has vast oil reserves and is presently our number one supplier of oil. It is critical that we continue to have a positive relationship with Canada by supporting their oil production and the pipeline that will carry this crude. Many Indiana companies supply various products and materials that will be used to refine this oil and move it through the pipeline.

Additionally, the Chamber agrees with Deroy Murdock’s recent column for National Review Online that President Obama needs to stop wavering and approve this project. Read the full article, but here’s an excerpt:

Five years and five months have passed since TransCanada first asked the State Department to bless KXL. Since the pipeline would cross America’s international border with Canada, it requires presidential approval, typically influenced by the State Department’s guidance. Since TransCanada filed its application on September 19, 2008, State has been very generous with its advice, offering at least five different assessments on KXL:

• On April 16, 2010, State found that KXL would have “limited adverse environmental impacts.”

• On August 26, 2011, State stated that “There would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed pipeline corridor.”

• On March 1, 2013, State virtually echoed its previous report when it ruled that “there would be no significant impacts to resources along the proposed Project route.”

• This past January 31, State concluded that “approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.”

• On February 26, State’s Office of Inspector General rejected charges that the department’s KXL review suffered ethical lapses: “OIG found that the department’s conflict of interest review was effective and that the review’s conclusions were reasonable.”

Obama’s 61-month-long navel-gaze on KXL (atop the four months that State pondered the pipeline late in G.W. Bush’s presidency) is pathetic when compared with American milestones that were achieved in less time:

• NASA needed four years, from 1979 to 1983, to build the Space Shuttle Discovery.

• As OilSandsFactCheck.org outlines in an excellent infographic, it took just two years (1941 to 1943) to build the Pentagon — the world’s largest office building, and home to 30,000 military and civilian employees.

• The Golden Gate Bridge linked San Francisco and Marin County, Calif., after just four years and four months of work over one of America’s most unforgiving waterways. Construction began on January 5, 1933. Pedestrians first crossed the bridge on May 27, 1937; cars followed the next day.

• Hoover Dam required five years of construction (1931 to 1936). It was finished two years ahead of schedule.

• It took one year, three months, and nine days to erect the Empire State Building. Between January 22, 1930, and May 1, 1931, a force of 3,439 men built what became — at 1,454 feet — Earth’s tallest skyscraper.

Obama’s endless “study” of Keystone is disgraceful. If he believes it should be built, he should approve it. TransCanada will invest $5.3 billion to build the pipeline. Taxpayer cost: $0.00. While some 10.2 million Americans officially are out of work, KXL will offer direct or indirect employment to an estimated 42,100 people.

“These jobs are really good-paying jobs,” says Union Business Manager magazine. “They provide not only a good living wage, they provide health care, and they also provide pensions.” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky calls KXL “the single largest shovel-ready project in America.”

Beyond the unemployed, all 315 million Americans would enjoy the steady flow of friendly oil from a NATO military ally. Every petrodollar exported to Canada is one less dollar shipped to overseas oil producers — such as terrorist-funding Saudi Arabia, gay-jailing Nigeria, and the Crimea-invading Russian Federation.

Brinegar Speaks on Chamber Support of Keystone XL Pipeline

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar speaks about the Canadian Keystone XL Pipeline Project, and the positive impact it will have on American energy and job creation (342,000 American jobs in the next five years). He also notes that the U.S. receives more oil from Canada than all of the Persian Gulf countries combined.

Shipping Wheat, Wind Turbines and More

When I say I’m going to provide you some St. Lawrence Seaway shipping statistics, the reason is more than the alluring alliteration. Our friends in Northwest Indiana are well aware of the Great Lakes shipping connections to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the tremendous economic impact of those important waterways.

Wheat and wind turbines are leading the way. Check out the news courtesy of Marine Delivers:

The latest statistics from the St. Lawrence Seaway show that grain shipments are up more than 20 percent as the marine highway benefits from international demand for American and Canadian wheat.
 
Year-to-date grain shipments from March 22 to June 30 totaled 2.6 million metric tons, compared to 2.1 million metric tons during the same period last year. While Canadian grain shipments were up three percent for the period to 1.9 million metric tons, the surge was predominantly fueled by a 127 percent increase in U.S. shipments of 400,000 metric tons heading through the Seaway to overseas markets.
 
Rebecca McGill, director of trade development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, noted that the 2011 navigation season continues to reflect respectable gains in general cargo and agriculture products.

There is one market, however, that is booming – the transportation of wind turbine components. Year-to-date general cargo shipments, which includes wind turbines, has increased by 404 percent. McGill said: “Shippers carrying wind component cargoes continue to send vessels into Great Lakes ports. These oversized pieces move economically by water to ports where rail or, more commonly, trucks move them to site destinations."

The Coming Food Crisis — and What It Has to do with Canada

In writing a bit about food production for BizVoice, it seems there is one daunting, unavoidable fact: With China and other Asian countries expanding their palettes to include dairy products, the pressure will be on Western food producers to raise the output in the coming years. While my talks with Hoosier producers indicated their eagerness to step up, Dan Gardner, a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, argues Canada will have a much tougher time doing so:

With rare exceptions, discussions of food policy in Canada are limited to the joys of eating organic and how hard-pressed farmers need more help from the government.

What you never hear is this: As a result of rising population and wealth, global demand for food is soaring and the world faces a food crisis unlike anything seen since the 1970s if food production does not grow rapidly. Canada is among the very few nations with the capacity to dramatically boost production. But we’re not. In fact, Canadian agriculture is stagnant. And politicians will not even discuss how we can change that.

“There is a disconnect,” says Larry Martin, an agricultural economist at the George Morris Centre, an independent think tank devoted to agricultural policy.

“Canada has the third-largest endowment of arable land per capita in the world, after Australia and Kazakhstan,” notes Martin. “We have, depending on the set of numbers you look at, nine per cent of the renewable fresh water supply in the world.” Put those two facts together, add one of the greatest commodity booms in history, and money should be pouring into Canadian food production.

But Martin found something startling when he compared the ratio of investment in agriculture with the depreciation of existing assets. Over the last decade, as China boomed and food prices soared, there was no rush to invest. “The ratio in Canada in eight of the last 10 years is less than one. So there’s less new investment coming into the food industry than there is depreciation.”

In the United States, by comparison, the worst year in the last 10 saw 40 per cent more investment than depreciation.

“It’s just astonishing when you see these numbers. We think of ourselves as a great wheat exporter but our share of the wheat market is declining. During the ’90s and early 2000s, we had between 20 and 25 per cent market share and it’s gone down steadily to 15 in the last few years.”

The causes of the stagnation are many, Martin says. A big one is a regulatory system that stifles innovation. Martin recalls testifying at a parliamentary committee alongside a wheat breeder from the University of Saskatchewan. “He went through a whole list of wheat varieties that he came up with that are much higher yielding than the wheat varieties in Canada. He couldn’t get them registered in Canada but they got registered in Montana and we now have to compete with them.”

Then there’s “supply management,” the 1970s-era policy which effectively turned dairy and poultry production into an industry-controlled cartel protected by import tariffs. It’s good for existing dairy and poultry producers because it keeps prices high and stable. And it has made the lucky people with production quotas a lot of money: the quota for a single dairy cow can go for $30,000 and estimates of the total value of production quotas range between $30 billion and $50 billion.

Honda Celebrating Major Milestones in 2009

So you like dependability? And you like fuel efficiency, too? Evidently, so do many Americans. This is why Honda has now been able to produce 20 million vehicles in North America. A statement from the company explains:

Honda produced its 20 millionth automobile in North America based on January 2009 production totals to be released this week…

“The production of 20 million cars and light trucks in North America was achieved through the ultimate in teamwork by our suppliers, business partners and dealers working together with Honda associates to create joy for our customers,” said Tsuneo Tanai, president & CEO of Honda of America Mfg., Inc. and head of Honda’s production operations in North America, covering the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Additionally, nearly 80% of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the United States were produced right here in North America.

According to Honda, the new Greensburg plant has produced approximately 6,800 vehicles since they began mass production last October. Also noteworthy is that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the American Honda Motor Co., Inc. — Honda’s first overseas subsidiary.

So congratulations to Honda, part of the Indiana Chamber member family.