Phil Kerpen
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There has never been a more "shovel ready" project in history than the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been exhaustively engineered, studied, reviewed, and re-reviewed as Obama tries to kill the project without admitting that's what he's doing. At stake are about 20,000 immediate jobs, a secure supply of North American oil, billions in private investment, and the global efficiency benefits of connecting a major crude source to the world's most efficient refining center. The latest news is that rather than simply say "yes," Obama is conducting yet another open-ended study.

The original permit application for the project was submitted in 2008. The State Department exhaustively reviewed every aspect of the proposal.

The State Department issued three different press releases in the spring of 2011 -- in March, April, and June -- that included this sentence: "The U.S. Department of State expects to make a decision on whether to grant or deny the permit before the end of 2011."

The president's jobs council touted the economic benefits of pipelines in its official report, saying: "Policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary."

But what if such timely development comes into conflict with ideologically motivated, powerful environmental special interests? We now know where Obama comes down.

The environmental protest crowd decided to make this into a litmus test political issue, instead of the no-brainer source of jobs and affordable energy that it really is. Their professed concern is that developing energy from increasingly-important unconventional sources, like the Alberta oil sands, will increase global warming.

Even if they're right, they're wrong to oppose the pipeline. If the Canadians can't build a pipeline to U.S. refineries, they've already announced they'll build a pipeline to export terminals on the west coast of Canada instead, from which it will go to dirtier and less efficient Asian refineries. A lose-lose for the economy and the environment.

The State Department's exhaustive review process ended last summer, and they recommended approval. All that remained was the usually perfunctory approval of the president. But Obama ignored all the reviews, the evidence, and the recommendations of his own jobs council to side with the protest crowd. He said he would wait until after his re-election to decide whether to approve it.

Congress forced his hand in a bipartisan bill passed around Christmas. It required Obama to decide to either approve or reject the pipeline within 60 days. He rejected it.

The pipeline company resubmitted the application.

Now the State Department is conducting yet another review. A new public comment period has been opened through the end of July, and the State Department will then review those comments. Who knows how long that will take? This is despite the fact that the review issued last August all but approving the project was labeled "final."

Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, which needs the pipeline to efficiently bring some of the oil from its miraculous energy boom to market, observed: "In essence they're saying, 'OK, now we're going to start all over again.'"

With unemployment rates and gas prices still painfully high, the thousands of workers hoping for jobs building the pipeline and the millions of Americans who will benefit from the oil that will flow through it can't afford to wait. Obama needs to stop playing the endless-study game and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now.

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Phil Kerpen

Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.

American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.

Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.

Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.

Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.