The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The President’s Choice on the Keystone XL

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 4, 2013

President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline turns on whether he believes the full project is in the U.S. national interest – whether he thinks it is good for our country’s national security, our energy future and our economy. The facts, the science and the American people say it is.

The last part first. The Keystone XL choice has obvious political implications. Over the almost five years the project has been under federal review, Americans have come to understand the Keystone XL’s importance, and they are rendering their opinion, as voters, in the strongest terms: Building the full Keystone XL is in the national interest. That’s what 82 percent of registered voters say in a new Harris Interactive Poll:

KXL Harris Poll

Breakdowns on the national-interest question by party identification and age:

KXL Poll National Interest by Party

And gender:


These are overwhelming majorities – underscored by the top-line margin (82 percent to 13 percent), as well as the difference between those who strongly support the Keystone XL (56 percent) and those who strongly oppose it (9 percent). As the graphs show, Americans’ belief that the project is in the national interest – again, the specific determination the president is charged with making – is strong across political identification, age and gender groups. API’s Cindy Schild, senior manager for oil sands and refining issues, during a conference call with reporters:

“From every perspective, the Keystone XL pipeline makes sense. The science supports this project. A bipartisan congressional majority supports it. Organized labor anxiously awaits its approval. And, above all, the American people support it – people of all political points of view, politicians from both parties, and national opinion leaders.”

Belief that the pipeline’s construction is in the national interest surely is built on a set of convictions about the project reflected in Harris’ survey:

  • 81 percent agree that the Keystone XL would help strengthen America’s energy security by delivering oil from North Dakota and neighboring states to U.S. refineries.
  • 77 percent agree that the Keystone XL would help strengthen America’s national security by increasing supplies of oil from North America instead from other parts of the world.
  • 85 percent agree that the Keystone XL would help strengthen America’s economic security by creating jobs here and by keeping energy dollars here in North America.
  • 75 percent agree that the Keystone XL would benefit the U.S. military by increasing access to oil from Canada, a NATO member and close neighbor.

Schild said four State Department assessments have each concluded that the Keystone XL would have no significant impacts on the environment, while it would expand trade with our No. 1 trading partner, Canada. Schild said the president has every piece of information needed to make a decision on a project that’s been studied so long it could have been built twice already:

“The facts support what Americans believe about the Keystone XL pipeline: It is a tremendous opportunity for America and is clearly in the national interest. No project in history has been analyzed as long and as thoroughly as the Keystone XL pipeline. It has been under review for more than twice as long as it will take to build. The delay has gone on for too long. The president needs to stand up and lead on this issue. We urge the administration to be guided by the facts, respect its own analyses, heed what Americans are saying, and approve the Keystone XL pipeline with no further delay.”

It’s well past time for the president to lead on the Keystone XL. In poll after poll after poll, Americans have basically said, “Build this pipeline, Mr. President.” For the jobs, for the economy, for the energy and for national security, build it.

This is the president’s choice: He can approve a shovel-ready project that clearly will provide broad benefits to the United States and put him on the side of the vast majority of Americans. Or he can bow to a small minority that offers no path toward keeping America well-supplied with the energy that makes our country strong and safe.


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.