The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Checking Off the Arguments for the Keystone XL Pipeline

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 30, 2013

Two pieces of new polling info linked to the Keystone XL pipeline.

First, Rasmussen reports that the project, after more than four years on the Obama administration’s “to do” list, enjoys support from 59 percent of those surveyed. Just 28 percent oppose. Strong supporters (34 percent) outnumber strong opponents (10 percent) by more than three to one. There’s been strong support for the Keystone XL in polls by Fox News and Pew Research.

Speaking of Pew, last week they released another of their periodic surveys showing the issues Americans think are most important as President Obama and Congress get to work this year. Topping the list is strengthening the economy (86 percent say it’s a “top priority”), followed by improving the job situation (79 percent) and reducing the budget deficit (72 percent). What’s this got to with the Keystone XL pipeline?

Plenty, actually. The full pipeline would be an integral part of new Canadian oil sands development, potentially resulting in:

  • 117,000 new U.S. jobs linked to the Keystone XL and 500,000 additional U.S. jobs supported by 2035.
  • 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs.
  • $20 billion injected into the U.S. economy by the full Keystone XL pipeline project, which would pay more than $5 billion in taxes to local counties over the life of the project.
  • 830,000 barrels of North American oil per day delivered, including crude from the U.S. Bakken region.

So, let’s recap: Americans are concerned about strengthening the U.S. economy – Check: Building and operating the Keystone XL pipeline would help in a big way. They’re concerned about jobs – Check: The pipeline would support job creation, lots of it. They want to reduce the budget deficit – Check: The Keystone XL would be a big part of a pro-energy development approach generating more than $800 billion in revenues to government by 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Another reason for the Keystone XL pipeline: Venezuela. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that imports of Venezuelan crude have fallen significantly from 1997, when that country was our largest supplier of imported oil (1.4 million barrels per day), to last year, when Venezuelan imports averaged 879,000 barrels per day through October. EIA’s chart:

The significance, as EIA puts it, is that the United States’ robust trade with Venezuela for crude is based on the fact a number of U.S. refineries – many concentrated on the Gulf Coast – are configured to handle Venezuela’s higher-density crude. Those imports have fallen along with the general decline in Venezuelan production, EIA says.

The oil sands crude the Keystone XL would bring from Canada, characteristically similar to Venezuelan crude, would help offset those declining imports while helping keep an important part of the refining sector well supplied.

But only if the full Keystone XL pipeline is built. The go-ahead is up to President Obama. Here’s how a Houston Chronicle editorial sees things:

"President Obama has run out of reasons to block expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. … This is an idea whose time has come. Among themselves, this country, Canada and Mexico have abundant resources that could bring a manufacturing renaissance to the entire continent while insulating us from dependence on energy from unstable areas and unfriendly regimes. The president has called for an energy using "all of the above." An expanded Keystone Pipeline will help deliver on that promise."

Jobs, economic stimulus, revenue for governments and a strengthened energy relationship with Canada. The Chronicle is right: The reasons to approve and build the Keystone XL pipeline have swept away different excuses to keep it in limbo. Approve the Keystone XL.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.