Associated Press
President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 following the Senate vote to approve legislation extending a Social Security payroll tax cut and long-term jobless benefits for two months.

The bill the Senate passed to extend the payroll tax cut requires that President Obama re-decide within 60 days whether the Keystone XL pipeline project is in the best interests of our country. If Obama decides to approve the project, he will create over 20,000 new jobs and bring over $7 billion into the U.S. economy — all at no cost to our empty federal treasury.

Approving this jobs and energy project is also the right thing to do strategically. Our economy requires 10 million barrels of imported oil per day. This pipeline will significantly increase our country's energy independence. It will give the U.S. direct and efficient access to energy from a friend and ally, rather than further energy dependence on countries who seek to drive up the cost of imported oil, hurting U.S. businesses and consumers.

Canada has already said that if the U.S. doesn't approve Keystone, it will ship all of its oil to China. A month ago Obama decided to defer this decision "for more study" and until 2013 — conveniently after the 2012 elections. Instead of putting the national interest first, Obama caved into the narrow interests of environmental extremists and liberal celebrities.

Obama now has another chance and should show real presidential leadership on the Keystone pipeline opportunity.

Dan Memmott