The Associated Press
President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser said Thursday that Obama should approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline to send Russian President Vladimir Putin a message that “international bullies” can’t use energy security as a weapon.
The comments by retired Gen. James Jones came as Democrats grappled with the election-year dilemma that the pipeline poses for them. Wealthy Democratic donors are funding candidates who oppose the project — a high-profile symbol of the political debate over climate change. But other Democrats are boosters of the pipeline and the party’s control of the Senate after the 2014 midterm elections may hinge on them.
Jones told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Canada-to-Texas pipeline is a litmus test of whether the U.S. is serious about national and global energy security. Approval of the pipeline would help ensure that North America becomes a global energy hub and a reliable energy source to the U.S and its allies, Jones said. Rejecting the pipeline would “make Mr. Putin’s day and strengthen his hand.”
Jones, who left the Obama administration in 2010, now heads a consulting firm that has done work for the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s chief trade group, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both groups support the pipeline, which is backed by a number of Senate Democrats facing tight re-election races, including Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Landrieu, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, pressed Secretary of State John Kerry on the pipeline issue Thursday at an appropriations hearing. Landrieu called approval of the pipeline “critical” to the national interest and said that in Louisiana, “it’s hard for us to even understand why there is a question” whether it should be approved. The State Department has jurisdiction over the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border.