Peter Roskam: President Chose His Base Over Jobs and Energy Security

-By Lori Ann LaRocco, CNBC

When the news came out that the President was set to reject the Keystone Pipeline, a flurry of emails filled my inbox.

All of those emails were in outrage over the decision. Normally, when it comes to a big political issue I receive a fairly equal balance of emails both in favor and against.

With the U.S. economy slowly recovering, this “shovel ready” project was seen as a perfect example to getting America back to work. The state of Illinois was one of those states banking on the pipeline. Just an hour after the official decision, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Chief Deputy Whip, got on the phone and expressed his reaction.

LL: The President has been very critical of the Republican party characterizing them as the party not willing work work across the aisle and compromise. What does his no mean to you?

Rep. Roskam: It’s terribly disappointing. President Obama is making a choice. It’s a clear choice. 20,000 middle class jobs vs. an environmental base. The President’s top priority is his base and as he said in one of his events, I’ll try hard on somethings but hey it’s an election year. The country is looking for someone to put the country together. This was project was taylor made to do that and yet the President was not willing to bring folks together. This decision was a political calculation. He is appealing to the base of his party and is unwilling to put energy security and jobs first.

LL: Let’s talk about the jobs.

Rep. Roskam: 20,000 jobs- which was the common understanding of actual jobs, but the ripple effects in job creation is up to five times that. It was estimated about 100k jobs would be created. All’s he had to do was say yes. But he stiff armed job creation with his decision and despite his own jobs council coming out with a recommendation of doing more energy projects– he went against it! The best decision would have been to give his approval. From a security point of view this increases vulnerability, This decision doesn’t make sense.

LL: In the end, will the Chinese benefit from this?

Rep. Roskam: It will be a boost to the Chinese. Clearly this energy will be sold in the most expeditious way at the expense of our own.

LL: What are you hearing from your constituents?

Rep. Roskam: Thousands of constituents signed a petition in favor of the pipeline but there is a larger theme to all of this. I hear time and time again from them that they want to see Congress get things done and they feel there isn’t any common ground. The Keystone Pipeline was one of those issues, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, even labor were all behind it. All’s the President had to do to make this happen and move forward was one simple word- yes.

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