By: U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

As gas prices continue to fluctuate amid uncertainty in the Middle East, the president has once again shown that he is out of touch with the American people.

On Jan. 18, the Obama administration denied a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a shovel-ready construction project that would create American jobs and energy.

Estimates forecast that this pipeline would create 20,000 construction jobs and transport more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from Canada and the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana to Gulf Coast refineries.

The White House’s excuse for nixing the proposal was that the president did not have enough time to review the plan, yet the pipeline’s application had been pending for more than three years.

Ironically, the Obama administration approved a 1,000-mile oil sands pipeline in 2009 that closely mirrors the Keystone XL. If a pipeline that carries 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to Wisconsin was good enough for the president in August of 2009, why is the Keystone XL unacceptable for him in an election year?

Time and again the House has moved bills to eliminate the administration’s bureaucratic delays that continue to stall job growth and American energy production.

In 2011, House Republicans passed a bill pushing for final approval of the Keystone XL. This pitch was ultimately included in the eleventh-hour payroll tax agreement giving the administration 60 days to transmit its decision.

Following the White House’s rejection, House lawmakers renewed efforts to advance this project by moving another bill that would once and for all end this three-year waiting game. As a member of the House committee with primary jurisdiction on energy legislation, I had the great opportunity to contribute to the redrafting of this crucial bill.

Just last week, this language was rolled into the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.

The House is not alone in its call for the Keystone XL. A bipartisan coalition of senators, governors, labor unions, editorial boards, and a plurality of the American people support this project that would help minimize the odds of future gas spikes.

In fact, a recent poll noted that 64 percent of respondents favored construction of the pipeline.

At a time when unemployment and prices at the pump are unstable, it’s no wonder the American public is disappointed with the president’s decision.

Every day that the president hides behind bureaucratic betrayal is another day without American jobs and relief from Middle Eastern oil. In his State of the Union address last month, the president promised to “significantly expand production of oil and natural gas from onshore and offshore public lands.” If only his record matched such rhetoric.

It’s simple: Keystone XL makes sense. This pipeline means jobs, energy security and satisfaction for the American public. This is another trademark Obama political decision that we cannot allow to stand.

2/20/12