When it comes to the Keystone XL Pipeline, former President George W. Bush has some advice for his successor: "Build the damn thing."
"If private sector growth is the goal and Keystone pipeline creates 20,000 new private sector jobs, build the damn thing," Bush recently said to a crowd of roughly 2,500 at the shale gas industry's DUG East conference in Pittsburgh.
"I think the goal of the country ought to be 'how do we grow the private sector?'" Bush said. "That ought to be the laser-focus of any administration. And therefore, once that’s the goal, an issue like Keystone pipeline becomes a no-brainer."
Bush went on to explain his support for the oil and gas industry as a byproduct of his upbringing. "I think it’s mostly because I’m from Midland, Texas," Bush said. "We don’t like government, we don’t like Wall Street, we don’t like much — we like oil and gas."
The Keystone XL pipeline would transport 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, across the U.S.-Canada border and south to Gulf Coast refineries. But it first requires State Department approval, which the Obama administration has continually put off. A State Department decision is unlikely before 2014.
Environmentalists contend that the pipeline would have enormous impacts -- from increases in greenhouse gas emissions to the threat of oil spills.
Those concerns haven't tempered the enthusiasm of many, though, including the former president.