The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Embrace Opportunity, Stop Delaying Keystone XL

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 21, 2014

It’s hard to look at the delays that have kept the Keystone XL pipeline on the drawing board for more than five years and not think about the countless American workers – in construction, fabrication, supply, transport and other sectors – who would be helped by the project finally getting under way. People like Billy Rogers.   

We met Rogers last year and he spoke about how a large, shovel-ready infrastructure project like the Keystone XL benefits working men and women. He knew this full well, being among 5,000 U.S. workers building Keystone XL’s southern leg, Gulf Coast Pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma:

“Working on the Gulf Coast Project has afforded me a good income that allows me to support my family. In addition, the construction of this project has had a significant impact in the local communities in which we work as the hundreds of crew members spend their money locally in restaurants, grocery stores, shops – everyone is benefiting.” 

Our economy needs more good-news stories like Rogers’ – as many as possible. Work on the Gulf Coast project is done, and the pipeline has starting bringing oil from the large hub facility near Crescent, Okla., to Gulf Coast refineries. Many more work opportunities – and the economic ripple that large infrastructure brings – would become reality if President Obama approved the full Keystone XL. And he should. For jobs, economic growth and greater U.S. energy security.

A district judge’s ruling in Nebraska this week, blocking a 2012 state law authorizing the governor to approve an altered, more widely acceptable Keystone XL route through that state, really has nothing to do with the pipeline’s merits. That’s what the judge said in the very first sentence of her ruling. The project’s merits compel President Obama to do the right thing for America by approving it. The pipeline has cleared five environmental reviews by the U.S. State Department and is in the U.S. national interest.

Despite the Nebraska ruling, the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry has not ordered a pause in his department’s Keystone XL review. So the national conversation goes on – on vastly different planes.

Opponents concede their fight against the Keystone XL (and against strong U.S. public opinion) is symbolic. It’s an anti-jobs, anti-progress, anti-energy campaign detached from fact and reality. Consider: Environmental concerns in Nebraska led to the rerouting of the Keystone XL. Then there was a lawsuit anyway.

In contrast, the case in support of the Keystone XL is one of substance and merit, from the kind of modern energy infrastructure investment we need for a stronger U.S. economy and greater energy security to the individual opportunity provided by individual paychecks.

Unfortunately, the Keystone XL now is synonymous with bureaucratic obstacles, delay for delay’s sake, the filibustering of the greater public good – and opportunity denied for thousands of U.S. workers. President Obama can end the delay on his own, with a pen stroke. Approving the project – just the kind of privately financed, major infrastructure initiative he has encouraged – would bring jobs, economic stimulus and strengthen our energy partnership with neighbor and ally Canada.

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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.