The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL at 5: Time to Decide, Time to Build

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 19, 2013

Five years … and counting. The Keystone XL pipeline now has been under consideration by the Obama administration for five years – or about twice as long as it would take to complete construction of the project linking Canada’s oil sands region with U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast and longer than a number of iconic projects highlighted here by the folks at Oil Sands Fact Check. So, what have we learned?


First, there’s the power of politics. Opponents of oil sands – and, generally, all fossil fuels – have waged a war of proxy against a shovel-ready project that would create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, stimulate the economy and make our country more energy secure. Unfortunately, the Keystone XL has been turned into a symbol for an off-oil political agenda that’s detached from fact and reason. For starters:

  • The project would create more than 42,000 annual average jobs in the U.S. over its construction phase, according to the State Department’s most recent evaluation.
  • The pipeline and associated oil sands development would result in “no substantive change in global (greenhouse gas) emissions,” the same State Department report concluded. A study by IHS agreed, saying the pipeline would have “no material impact” on U.S. emissions.
  • Oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region would make the U.S. more energy secure – meaning, make supply of the oil that runs our economy and makes modern living possible, more reliable while reducing imports from unstable parts of the world.

API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“An anniversary of delay is not a call for celebration. Five years of review for a project that is in this nation’s best interest is unacceptable. … We urge the president to act now, and help Americans get back to work. … It’s now time to build KXL. How much longer should Americans have to wait for the jobs and increased energy security that the Keystone XL project will bring?”

Below, some of the testimony from this week’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Keystone XL.

David Delie, president of Welspun Tubular in Little Rock, Ark., which invested more than $299 million in pipe mills and other infrastructure and employed 600 people to produce more than 700 miles of 36-inch pipe for the Keystone XL:

“The construction of the KXL pipeline will provide more opportunities as the infrastructure grows in support of the development of the Oil Sands in Canada and the Bakken in the United States. The end result is Keystone XL will enable growth which will support ongoing production and jobs at Little Rock, denying the project will reduce ongoing employment.”

Ron Kaminski of the Laborers’ International Union of America:

“The construction sector was hit particularly hard by the economic recession. The unemployment rate in the construction industry reached over 27% in 2010, and joblessness in construction remains higher than virtually any industry or sector, with nearly 1 million construction workers currently unemployed in the United States. Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL Pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them. … (Pipeline opponents) have imposed a value judgment that holds construction jobs to be of a lesser value because, eventually, every construction project has a completion date. They call these jobs ‘temporary’ in an effort to diminish their importance to the men and women who have chosen a career in the construction sector. The undeniable truth is that while opponents of the pipeline have successfully delayed the construction of the Keystone XL, members of my union have lost homes, lost their health care and other benefits.”

Dennis Houston, president and CEO of the Norfolk (Neb.) Area Chamber of Commerce:

“For the citizens of Norfolk and all of Madison County, the Keystone Pipeline was not just about bringing 750 workers into our communities for five months. It was about building a rural economic development success story in northeast Nebraska. It was about new job creation in our part of Nebraska. … Rural Nebraska, like many rural areas in America, is not looking for a handout from the federal government. We are simply asking for the opportunity to take care of ourselves as we create new jobs, attract more industry and bring new people to town as a result of our new industrial highway and industrial park expansion. This would not have been possible without the original TransCanada Keystone pipeline running through the Norfolk area.”

Five years … and counting. It’s been an up-and-down ride, especially for the workers who would build the Keystone XL, the manufacturers of equipment needed for the project and materials suppliers – not to mention people in service sectors who would benefit from infrastructure construction on this scale.

Five years … and counting is no way to encourage major private investment, to strengthen relations with Canada, our neighbor and ally, or to protect America’s national interest. The American people want the pipeline built to realize the jobs, economic stimulus and energy security that would result. Time to decide. Time to build.


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.