President Joe Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone Pipeline on his first day in office cost the U.S. economy 59,000 jobs and $9.6 billion in economic growth, according to a study released last month by his own Energy Department.
The proposed 875-mile pipeline would have safely transported up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the Canadian border to Steel City, Nebraska, where it would have linked up existing pipelines to American refineries.
Far-Left environmentalists who want to make gas more expensive for working people opposed the project for years before Biden finally denied the last permit needed to begin construction. After Biden denied the permit, Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jim Risch (R-ID) passed a law requiring the Energy Department to issue a report on how many construction jobs were lost when the permit wasn’t built. On Dec. 23, months after the study was required to be released, the Energy Department finally released it, showing that 50 permanent jobs were lost when the project died, as well as 59,468 two-year temporary jobs.
“The Department of Energy finally admitted to the worst kept secret about the Keystone Pipeline: President Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline sacrificed thousands of American jobs,” Risch said. “To make matters worse, his decision moved the U.S. further away from energy independence and lower gas prices at a time when inflation and gas prices are drastically impacting Americans’ pocketbooks.”
This denial of the Keystone permit is not the only thing Biden has done to make infrastructure harder to build in the U.S. His administration has also undone key reforms to the federal permitting process. This will drive up the cost of every infrastructure project tied to the federal government.
Passed in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act empowers environmental radicals to go to federal court to stop any federal infrastructure project. Whether their case is meritorious or not, they can easily cause significant delays. The cost of interstate highway construction has tripled since NEPA became law, making the U.S. one of the least efficient infrastructure investors in the entire world. The average environmental review required by NEPA now takes an average of four and a half years and runs thousands of pages long.
The Trump administration issued reforms to the NEPA process in July 2020, requiring all NEPA reviews to be completed within two years and setting strict page limits on the reports. These reforms also removed requirements that federal projects had to consider climate change and other indirect environmental impacts in their environmental regulatory assessments.
The Biden administration, unfortunately, undid these reforms. Democrats may say they want to become the party of “supply-side liberalism,” but until they get serious about permitting reform, they are never going to make infrastructure affordable in this country.