Will President Obama Say No to Small Businesses on Keystone?

John Boehner

Steele City, Nebraska – population: 61, give or take – has one business, the Salty Dog Saloon, and one big thing going for it: part of the Keystone pipeline.  “During new pipeline construction, floods of workers descend on the town, almost doubling its size,” the Daily Nebraskan reports:

‘Oh yeah, we get really busy,’ said Karen Harbey, a bartender at The Salty Dog Saloon.  ‘Instead of one person (in the kitchen) and one person (behind the bar), we’ll have at least two (in the kitchen) and two or three (behind the bar).’

“But it’s not just The Salty Dog Saloon that sees a spike in business.  Pipeline workers often haul in RVs and set up at the camp site just behind the bar, where they pay a fee to live until their work in Steele City is complete. Those who don’t bring RVs often take up residence in motels in the surrounding towns of Fairbury and Beatrice.”

Yesterday we asked whether the president will snub millions of America’s workers and the unions that represent them by vetoing Keystone.  Today, we’re asking the same, for the nation’s small businesses.  Because when the president’s own State Department says the project would support at least 42,000 jobs, keep in mind that these jobs will go everywhere from the energy and construction industries to the smallest businesses in the smallest towns.

Fortune.com recently reported on “why small business loves the Keystone pipeline”: “The project, which would be a potential goldmine for contractors and suppliers, has the strong support of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a trade group that represents small businesses. … Kate Bonner, the senior manager for the NFIB’s legislative affairs … also emphasized that job creation could be a boon for business along the pipeline’s route, including those in supporting industries in the area such as restaurants and retail.

Other small business groups have encouraged the president to change his mind,” The Washington Post notes: “Many have pointed to the job creation potential of the project, which some estimate would provide work for upwards of 40,000 people.  That would be split almost evenly between jobs stemming directly from the project and others indirectly tied to the build-out of the pipeline (think restaurants that sell lunch to Keystone workers, health care companies providing coverage to those workers, and so on).”

For its part, the House Small Business Committee has released testimonials from small business owners backing the project and held a number of hearings to illustrate the need for Keystone. “Small businesses like mine and my colleagues’ in the chemical distribution industry would be directly and beneficially affected by its construction, leading to reduced costs for both ourselves and, ultimately, our customers,” Mat Brainerd, president of Brainerd Chemical Co. in Tulsa, OK, said during one such hearing.

And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has detailed the stories of small businesses that count on pipeline construction: “In the Southeast Texas town of Kountze, Jeremy Kunk’s Ready Ice Company sold approximately 30,000 pounds of ice per week to pipeline construction sites in its area.  The ice improved safety by keeping workers cool and hydrated.  Kunk expects that the economic boost supplied by pipeline projects will be long-lasting.”

As Speaker Boehner often says, we build pipelines all across our country every day.  And when we do, that means creating more jobs, more growth, and more opportunity from the ground up.   So it’s pretty simple: will President Obama side with left-fringe anarchists and say no to our small businesses?  We’ll soon find out. 

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