The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL in Brief: Security, Security, Security

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 23, 2013

Over the nearly five years the administration has been reviewing the Keystone XL pipeline, a strong case has been made that the project is in the U.S. national interest – in terms of jobs and strengthening our country’s energy security through safe and responsible development and transportation of oil sands from Canada.

To those points that echo throughout the long Keystone XL public debate, it’s extremely valuable to add unique perspective. Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, former national security advisor in the Obama administration, adds such perspective – from one who both fought for this country and later helped direct its military defense.

Jones knows a great deal about the U.S. national interest and national security. Energy, he told a Tuesday policy briefing hosted by The Hill newspaper, is integral to both, and the Keystone XL pipeline is a golden opportunity to make our country more energy secure:

“Any nation that fails to secure the energy its citizens need leaves itself vulnerable to the whims of those who may not share their national interests.  … Furthermore, energy confers enormous power on those who have it and spells out vulnerability for those who do not.”

Jones said energy security is a “catalyst for the economic transformation of our country in the 21st century.” Yet, he said, energy security springs from visionary, proactive decisions and that a failure to make those decisions could cloud our country’s future:

“A nation begins to decline once it ceases to be able to make the decisions it must make, and it knows it must make, in order to support its own national interests and integrity. When nations approach that point, that’s a tipping point in my view for what constitutes decline. If we fail to adopt policies that strengthen our credibility and strengthen our international partnerships then we cannot expect to lead other nations by our example. So if we fail to grasp the enormous opportunity presented by the Keystone XL pipeline, we will miss out on a chance to improve the energy security of the North American alliance.”

North Dakota’s two U.S. senators also spoke at Tuesday’s event. Sen. John Hoeven said building the Keystone XL pipeline would increase the amount of oil supplied domestically and from Canada from about 78 percent of what the U.S. consumes to about 83 percent:

“Number 1, (the pipeline) is about getting to energy security in the very near future. … In three to five years we can produce more oil than we consume here in North America.”

Hoeven said the pipeline would produce jobs – “clearly, it’s a big-time job creator” - and revenue for government at a time when both are critically needed. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp expressed frustration with the nearly five-year review of the Keystone XL:

“It has taken this administration longer to make a decision on the Keystone (XL) pipeline than what it took us to beat Hitler and Germany. Pretty amazing. This is not the biggest issue in America, but yet it takes center stage in a way that in some ways I’d argue is irrational because it does not confront the reality of what actually happens to move crude oil and it does not confront the reality of how good it is for America to include Canadian resources in our resource mix.”


The Keystone XL is clearly in the national interest. And long, long overdue. As Cindy Schild, API’s senior manager for refining and oil sands, noted at The Hill event, the project could have been built twice already in the amount of time it has been under review – review that has seen four State Department analyses conclude that the pipeline would not significantly impact the environment.

The American people support it, as do bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress. The president can and should make the decision to approve the Keystone XL now, without further delay. 


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.