The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

On Keystone XL: Engineers, Scientists and Experts Say Yes

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 13, 2014

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu says her panel will have a vote next week on the Keystone XL pipeline – now in its sixth year of federal review. The announcement prompted this statement from the office of Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado:

“If the Keystone XL pipeline were being routed through our state, Coloradans would want to know the decision was being made on the merits — and not congressional meddling. … That’s why Sen. Udall intends to again reject the notion that lawmakers know better than the engineers, scientists and experts whose responsibility it is to evaluate the pipeline application on its merits.”

Which is wrong, wrong, wrong.

denver_postThere have been five environmental reviews by the U.S. State Department, and in each engineers, scientists and experts have agreed that the pipeline would have negligible effect along its route, the most recent one specifically concluding that the project would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

So the question isn’t whether the Senate will choose politics over experts. The White House already has done that. The question is whether the Senate will reject special-interest politics and approve a project that clearly has been shown to be in the national interest.

As Senate Democrats wrote to the White House earlier this year:

“This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope. It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify.”

It is time to build.

After public hearings and commenting periods enough that the transcripts might fill a good-sized library, and countless analyses showing how Keystone XL would strengthen U.S. energy and national security – it is time to build.

After thorough economic study establishing that the $5.3 billion Keystone XL would create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs during its construction phase and beyond with full development of Canada’s oil sands reserves – it is time to build.

After public opinion poll after poll, showing strong, steady national support for the Keystone XL – it is time to build.

Respectfully, and appreciating the political difficulty the Keystone XL poses for Sen. Udall, the merits of the project were established long ago – by engineers, scientists and experts. We’re well beyond the fact-finding phase in this decision. That Sen. Landrieu has scheduled a committee vote underscores the administration’s failure to decide and its glaring lack of leadership.  API President and CEO Jack Gerard from earlier this year:

“It’s a sad day for America’s workers when politics trumps job creating policy at the White House. After nearly six years of review, repeated research on the pipeline’s benefits to economic security and job growth, numerous studies confirming no significant environmental impacts, with the backing of organized labor, and poll after poll showing the support of American voters – if the White House lacks the political leadership to make a decision, we call on Congress to represent the will of the people and act.”

The federal process on the Keystone XL became a debacle some time ago, a decision that was politicized in the absence of presidential leadership to keep focused on the project’s merits and render a verdict in the national interest. That’s on the administration. Here’s how a Washington Post editorial framed it recently:

At this point, there is little doubt about the big picture. … The administration’s latest decision is not responsible; it is embarrassing. The United States continues to insult its Canadian allies by holding up what should have been a routine permitting decision amid a funhouse-mirror environmental debate that got way out of hand. The president should end this national psychodrama now …

The merits have been settled. The question is whether Sen. Udall will side with the engineers, scientists and experts he cites, as well as the American people, or choose to reject the broad facts to pander to a single big donor and a narrow special interest over the national interest.

We’ll give the last word to Irv Halter, a Democratic congressional candidate in Colorado, who urged Keystone XL’s construction:

“This project will create jobs, spur economic growth, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It has been long-planned and thoroughly reviewed, and it is time to build the pipeline.”


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.