The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Keystone XL Pipeline Controversy

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 22, 2010

The debate over oil sands has taken a new political twist with a U.S. Senator asking whether the State Department will fairly consider a pipeline expansion project that could bring more Canadian crude oil to the United States.

In a speech in San Francisco last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "inclined" to approve the pipeline project after an environmental review is finished early in 2011. She described her role in considering the pipeline as "a very hard balancing act," and added, "Energy security requires that I look at all of the factors that we have to consider while we try to expedite as much as we can America's move toward clean, renewable energy." (AP)

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Her remarks were criticized yesterday by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who accused her of prejudging her department's review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. In a letter to Clinton, he wrote, "A premature decision of this magnitude is unfortunate."

If the Keystone XL project is approved, it would transport 510,000 barrels of oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta, to markets in Cushing, Oklahoma, and finally to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. A portion of the pipeline, which was completed in June, already is transporting oil from Canada to southern Illinois. The Keystone XL pipeline is the second half of the $12-billion investment, which would double its capacity to about 1.1 million barrels per day and create 15,000 high-paying jobs across the United States.

Despite the economic benefits, several environmental groups oppose the project due to concerns over the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emitted from oil-sands operations. Their statements have been countered, however, by an IHS CERA study showing emissions from oil-sands production is very similar to those of other forms of crude oil being produced in the United States and Venezuela.

While many individuals and groups offer opinions on the pipeline, it's instructive to look at the facts: The United States imports more than 2 million barrels of oil per day from Canada. Oil powers the economy and provides personal mobility for millions of Americans, and will continue to be a primary source of energy for decades. The pipeline project should be approved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.