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.

Help Get I-69 Into National Freight Network

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently seeking comments on the Primary Freight Network and National Freight Network designations. The Indiana Chamber believes that I-69 should be included as part of the National Freight Network and is asking DOT to support this effort.

As part of the National Freight Network designation, DOT has the opportunity to identify an additional 3,000 miles of highways that are critical to the future efficient movement of goods; this represents a strategic opportunity for the nation to enhance its freight transportation network.

A national priority over the past 20 years, I-69’s significance as a major freight route will increase as states along the corridor continue making progress toward its completion.

I-69 provides the most direct interstate access to principle international border crossings between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as multiple Gulf Coast ports; the volume of traffic on I-69 is anticipated to dramatically rise as the interstate progresses. For all these reasons, I-69 should be included in the Primary Freight Network.

We urge you to show your support for including I-69 as part of the Primary Freight Network by signing this petition.

Keystone Pipeline Being Reconsidered; Tell Your Members of Congress it’s Important

The Obama administration is seriously considering reversing its January 2012 rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline project. A revised environmental impact statement from the State Department significantly eases environmental objections and opens the door for approval on a new application and revised route for the pipeline.

Opponents, most notably environmental extremists, have aggressively mobilized protests, lobbying and grassroots pressure on Congress and the President to kill the project. The White House is again under intense pressure and needs to hear from supporters of U.S. energy independence and the pipeline project.

The Indiana and U.S. economies are dependent upon reliable energy. Indiana has long been a leader in the energy and transportation industries. Low cost reliable sources of energy are critical to Indiana’s large and small businesses. Virtually every manufacturing process uses petroleum products as lubricants, parts, molds or finished products.

The $7 billion proposed Keystone XL project would construct a 1,700 mile pipeline to transport about 800,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil from tar sand fields in Canada across the central U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project is estimated to create more than 250,000 jobs and is supported by a broad coalition of business and labor organizations.

Recently, 53 members of the U.S. Senate, including nine Democrats, signed a letter to President Obama in support of the project. “We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security . . . there is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project,” they wrote. Nearly 70% of American voters support building the pipeline.

The new State Department statement predicts that Canada will continue to develop the oil sands and sell to other nations whether the U.S. allows the Keystone XL pipeline or not. Canada already provides more oil to the U.S. than all Persian Gulf countries combined. A new pipeline project would strengthen and expand this already productive and vital energy relationship. Not to mention, sourcing more of our energy from a friendly, democratic and North American neighbor will help reduce our reliance on energy resources from less stable areas of the world.

Call to Action: Send a message to President Obama and your members of Congress to urge approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline!

Mr. President, It’s Time to Approve Keystone Pipeline

It's Keystone Pipeline time again. The Obama administration rejected the original plan last year. A new route for the job-creating, energy-supplying pipeline has been proposed and supported this time by the Nebraska governor. Despite climate change discussion, here's why the President should not stand in the way, according to The American Conservative:

This should be a no-brainer at this point. The Obama administration’s refusal to approve the pipeline shadily cited a lack of time to review the proposal; a presidential statement last year noted that the delay was “not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline.” Well, time has passed. Environmental impact has been studied.

As the editors of the Washington Post observe:

TransCanada has reapplied with a new proposed route, and this week Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) signed off on the plan, following an analysis from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. The regulators found that the new route would avoid the Sand Hills and other areas of concern. Though there is always some risk of spill, they said, “impacts on aquifers from a release should be localized, and Keystone would be responsible for any cleanup.” TransCanada will have to buy at least $200 million in insurance to cover any cleanup costs.

Adding to that, a letter signed by 53 senators, including nine Democrats, urged Obama to go ahead with the pipeline. “There is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project,” it said.

The decision to delay the pipeline reeked of election-year politics. Needless to say, the political calculus has changed. There’s a view that the rhetorical privileging of combating climate change in Obama’s second Inaugural Address will make it hard to throw environmentalists under the bus over Keystone. I think it makes it easier. Approving the pipeline offers Obama a small Nixon-to-China-like opportunity to say something like, We can safely fulfill our energy needs now while laying a foundation for a clean-energy future.

Press-Seal Gasket Corp: Fort Wayne Company Seals Future with Dynamic Approach

Founded in 1954, Press-Seal Gasket Corporation has grown from a small Fort Wayne operation to a company with international reach, selling to customers in Israel, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, Canada, Japan and some Caribbean countries.

“When I first started as a salesman in 1978, I was just the 13th employee,” relays Chairman and CEO James Skinner, adding the company now has 138 on staff.

Skinner explains the company was initially founded by a concrete pipe producer who wasn’t satisfied with the quality of rubber gaskets available at the time. Ten years later following some deaths in his family, two attorneys serving as the company’s counsel ended up owning the company. They struggled to produce a reliable accounting report, so they called IBM to send a computer salesman out in 1964 to straighten it out.

“My father (Hank Skinner) was working for IBM and was sent out to Press-Seal and explained IBM could not sell them a computer because the company was too small, and the cost of the computer would have been half of its annual revenues.”

He did provide them with a bookkeeping system and a list of accountants who could keep it straight.

“Basically, they were so impressed with him that they offered him part of the business – to come in as general manager,” Skinner says. “Then over the next eight years, my father purchased the interest of the other two stockholders. Since 1964, our family has been involved in the management of the company, and I purchased it from my parents in 1984.”

Over time, the company has expanded from mainly pipe gaskets and pipe-to-manhole connectors, and in 1990 expanded into extrusion and molding. Press-Seal has also added a tool and die operation.

“That’s a similar story to how the company started,” Skinner notes. “I was unable to get good delivery from local tool and die shops because we were a small company and all the larger companies in the Fort Wayne market were their priority. So I bought a small tool and die shop in Columbia City and turned it from a small shop that was servicing the foundry and automotive industries to a shop that focuses on medical, aerospace, automotive and higher tech things. It’s now a fully integrated shop…

“It allows us to take a different tack on how things are made,” he adds, noting that stainless parts are a specialty of the operation. “While a lot of tool and die shops are going out of business these days, we are thriving. We find a lot of customers are in a lot of pain in terms of non-delivery and (a shop) not understanding the customers’ needs.”

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Keystone XL Pipeline Wins on Capitol Hill Not Enough

The Congressional scoreboard reads 5-2 in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. But few believe the job-creating project to transport oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast is any closer to its needed U.S. approval.

The House passed (293-127) a federal transportation bill Wednesday that will now go to conference committee. A provision in that legislation would force the administration to approve the pipeline.

It is the fourth time the House has given its approval on the project, expected to create thousands of jobs during the construction phase and help increase energy security in the long term. The Senate has taken three votes, passing it once as part of the payroll tax deal late last year and defeating it twice.

Not to be forgotten is the importance of the transportation bill. The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion program two weeks ago. It is expected to be the basis for the conference committee negotiations.

The White House has already threatened to veto the highway bill if the Keystone language remains. Both, however, are critical to funding ongoing infrastructure needs and putting people back to work.

In the upcoming BizVoice magazine (available May 3 in print and online), I’ll have a one-on-one interview with Canadian Consul General Roy Norton, who talks about the importance of this project, the critical Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, and other opportunities between the two North American neighbors.

Canadian Bankin’

Pardon the title, but Canada is in a position to make some serious bank off of its natural resources — namely oil. In our upcoming May/June edition of BizVoice magazine, Communications VP Tom Schuman has an interesting interview with Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada, about how Canada plans to move forward after President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Although, Obama contends the rejection was pending more environmental review and may not be permanent. (If you have a few minutes, read Norton’s remarks when he spoke to a group at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce in February.)

At any rate, I just perused the article in the editing process and I think our readers will be intrigued by our northern neighbor’s concerns and ambitions. It also includes a quote from Norton that reinforces why the Indiana Chamber endorsed Sen. Richard Lugar in the 2012 GOP primary and general election:

"You can safely say that if there is one person in the United States Congress who gets the geopolitical importance and relevance of achieving North American energy self-sufficiency and what that could mean for North America in unburdening us, making us less susceptible to Iranian adventurism and Venezuelan adventurism, it’s your senior senator from Indiana." – Norton

Canada Moving Forward After Pipeline Rejection

The January decision by the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL pipeline drew plenty of criticism in the United States. Canadian officials, while accepting the explanation offered, are concerned, and they are not sitting back and waiting for a potential change of course from their southern neighbors.

Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada, spent last week at meetings and events in Indiana. Norton is responsible for Canadian interests in trade, investment, the environment and more in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. Norton provided his analysis of the Washington rejection of the pipeline that would transport oil resources from the tar sands of Alberta province to the U.S. gulf coast.

Norton says Canadians are “disposed to take at face value the assurances that President Obama offered Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper that this was a process-related issue, not a substantive decision.” In other words, Obama cited additional environmental review due to Nebraska seeking a rerouting of the pipeline and a deadline set by Congress as the reasons for the rejection at this time.

Although TransCanada, the energy infrastructure company behind the pipeline, has indicated it will reapply for a U.S permit, Norton described the significance of the relationship between the two countries and the next steps for Canada that are already in progress.

“There is concern. Ever since NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), our resources have been predicated on the notion that we would develop them to export them to you (the U.S.), and 99% of Canadian oil exports have come to the United States. The entire industry has been organized on a principle that suddenly may seem in question: Does the United States continue to want that oil? And if you don’t, we’re not going to just stop developing it.

“The prime minister made clear, in a little jocular way, that we’re not a northern national park for the United States.” Norton continues. “We’re a G7 country with an industrial economy. We happen to sit on the third largest reserve of oil after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Ours, other than the U.S., is the only one (oil supply) not government controlled; it’s total private sector investment.”

Harper traveled to Asia earlier this month and entered into an agreement on energy cooperation with the Chinese.

“Our objective, very much,” Norton adds, “is to build a pipeline to (our) West Coast and to be able to sell oil to China, Japan, whoever. Two or three years ago, the prime minister said Canada is an emerging energy superpower. Somebody challenged that and said you can’t be a superpower if you have only one market. So, in business terms, it’s probably true that it’s prudent for us to have more than one market. So we will seek to diversify.”

Norton closes with some of the numbers related to Canadian oil production and potential benefits for the U.S. and Indiana from the proposed pipeline:

  • Sixty cents of every dollar invested in the Alberta oil sands come back to the United States in consumption. “You benefit more from Canadian resource development than you benefit as a country from resource development (anywhere else).”
  • Currently, $160 billion in private sector investment is underway to take production of the oil sands from two billion barrels a day to three and a half billion barrels a day.
  • That increase, with the pipeline, could create “in the order of 343,000 jobs in the United States, 7,500 of those in Indiana” – citing Caterpillar and dozens of other Indiana operations that currently or would supply the oil production and the pipeline.

The Chamber’s May-June BizVoice® magazine will have more from Norton on issues important to Indiana and his country.

“Doing Business in Canada” Event in Indy on Feb. 22

While my impression of Canada is largely shaped by my summer fishing trips to Northern Ontario, it’s important to remember our neighbor to the North is far more than just beautiful country and sparkling lakes — it’s also an international business hub. If your business is one of the many in America currently doing business in Canada — or if you’re considering doing so — the Canadian Consulate General wants to help you get informed.

In partnership with PNC Bank, Barnes & Thornburg and BKD Accounting, the Consulate General is conducting a "Doing Business in Canada" seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis. (There is no fee to attend.)

Hope you can make it, and the agenda is as follows:

9 a.m. Registration / Coffee / Networking 

9:15 a.m. Welcoming Remarks (Richard Ellis, PNC Bank) 

9:30 a.m. Doing Business in Canada Overview (Delon Chan, Consul & Trade Commissioner)

10 a.m. Business Structure, Labour Law, and Legal issues in Canada (Peter A. Morse, Barnes & Thornburg)  

10:30 a.m. Coffee Break / Networking 

10:50 a.m. Accounting – General Tax Structures: How to Organize the Business to Obtain the Right Tax Result (presented by Tom Miller, Partner, BKD Accounting Firm)  
- Operating Taxes – GST/HST; Tax treaty between the US and Canada 
- Doing business without creating a taxable presence 
- Service PE

11:20 a.m Foreign Exchange Risk Management and Global Treasury Management in Canada
(Thomas Miller, Managing Director, Foreign Exchange)
- PNC’s Capital Markets (Randolph Goode, Global Treasury Management, PNC Bank)

11:50 a.m. US-Canada Relations
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada 

12:50 p.m. Closing Remarks (presented by PNC)  

To reserve a spot, just register online.

Keystone Pipeline Fallout Includes Union vs. Union Kerfuffle

The Keystone XL Pipeline saga continues with Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar leading the effort to revive the project. The Competitive Enterprise Institute looks at the union divide that was deepened by President Obama’s decision to kill the job-creating movement of oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Terry O’Sullivan, head of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA ), has called Obama’s action "politics at its worst," saying that "once again the President has sided with environmentalists instead of blue collar construction workers." O’Sullivan angrily vowed that "workers across the U.S. will not forget this."

The Keystone project has long pitted the two key Obama constituencies against one another. Green groups agitated against the pipeline over worries of water contamination and other (largely baseless) environmental fears, while many building and trade unions lusted after the thousands of construction jobs the pipeline would create in the United States.

Mark H. Ayers, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO has publicly hammered the jobs issue. In a January 18th press release, Ayers voiced the frustration of many union workers, saying "…with a national unemployment rate in construction at 16 percent nationally, it is beyond disappointing that President Obama placed a higher priority on politics rather than our nation’s number one challenge: jobs."

James T. Callahan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, agrees, complaining to the Washington Post  that Obama’s decision was "…a blow to America’s construction workers," who are struggling in "the sector hardest hit by the recession."

In his rejection of the pipeline, Obama blamed Republicans for forcing him to meet what the While House deemed an arbitrary deadline. This despite the fact that the State Department has had the application for Keystone since 2008, held 20 meetings on the subject, and produced a gargantuan 1,000 page Environmental Study to assess the possible consequences of the pipeline, which would bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast of the United States. As Rep. Joe Barton of Texas ruefully noted, the U.S. "fought and won World War II" in a shorter amount of time.

Besides causing a fissure between the President and some of his key union allies, the Keystone issue has also ruptured the once-strong Green/Labor alliance between environmental and union organizations, and has even pitted union against union. LUINA announced on January 20 that it left the so called "BlueGreen Alliance," citing "Job-killing attacks on the Keystone XL pipeline by some of the alliance’s labor and environmentalist members."

The Alliance describes itself as "a national, strategic partnership between labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy."

While LIUNA has left the Alliance, many unions remain committed to the partnership between the Democratic Party’s two most powerful special interests and staunchly oppose the pipeline. O’Sullivan has called this emerging divide "as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon."

To these unions, the LIUNA President said he was "repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women."