The former national security adviser – and current adviser to the oil industry – says pipelines that bring oil from Canada are in the nation’s economic interest.
James Jones, former national security adviser to President Obama and retired commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, is helping the oil industry make its case for the Keystone XL pipeline through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
The pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands region, has become a rallying point for climate change activists who oppose it. Obama soon must decide whether to approve a permit to build the project — a decision sure to anger one side or the other.
Jones, 69, now is a paid adviser to the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, supporters of the project. He also is a proponent of revamping and centralizing the U.S. government’s energy policy.
He spoke with the Star Tribune while visiting Minnesota to address a rural cooperative meeting.
Q: What did you learn as a military leader that influences your thinking about energy?
A: The more senior you become in the military the more important it is to understand the difference between issues and objectives that are strategic vs. those that are operational and tactical. A fact of life in the 21st century is that national security and global stability depend on prosperity — at home and abroad. These objectives can’t be achieved without ample and affordable supplies of energy. It’s clear that energy is a strategic economic and security issue for our country that will shape our prospects — economic and security — in the decades to come.
Q: If you were advising President Obama, what would you tell him about Keystone XL?
A: This administration has the potential to leave a legacy on energy that is quite bright for the country. The Keystone XL pipeline is an element of that legacy and an important one not only because of the jobs and energy security it offers, but it impacts the geostrategic relationship we have with our closest ally to the north, Canada. The project can help ensure a securer energy future for North America. Moreover, it would send an important message to international markets that our country intends to capitalize on our energy leadership and resource abundance.
Q: Do you also support Enbridge Energy’s expansion of its Alberta Clipper pipeline, which carries the same kind of oil from Canada through Minnesota to the Midwest?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: Do you believe that greenhouse gases from human activity are changing the climate, or do you doubt the science?
A: I’m not a scientist, but I take environmental concerns very seriously, as we all should. The State Department concluded in an environmental impact statement, however, that there is no appreciable impact on our climate as a result of this pipeline. I would also say that I believe in the “all of the above” energy strategy, including renewables. Fundamentally, I believe that keeping our economy strong and our innovation system vibrant — which requires energy security — will position us best to meet the economic, security, and environmental challenges ahead, as sound science and good sense dictate.