While the news was that George W. Bush was the keynote speaker at a conference put on by a group that wants to convert Jews to Christianity received more national and international attention, the 43rd president made made another prominent stop at a conference last week. Among the topics he covered was the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, though Mr. Bush could not see why the pipeline was ever even a question.
On Thursday, he sat down to speak to more than 2,500 oil and gas industry leaders at the DUG East conference in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference focuses on unconventional oil and gas extraction.
“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.