The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Time for Political Leadership on Keystone XL

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 16, 2014

This week the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote on bipartisan legislation that would advance the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline – a $5.3 billion, privately financed infrastructure project that the U.S. State Department says would generate more than 42,000 jobs during its construction phase while contributing more than $3 billion to our economy.

Congress is acting because the administration has not – not in more than five years of review by the administration, during which the project has cleared five environmental reviews by the State Department. Congressional leadership on Keystone XL is about the administration’s lack of clear leadership on the Keystone XL.

As the vote approaches, API President and CEO Jack Gerard and Sean McGarvey, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, talked about the pipeline during a conference call. Both pointed to developments in Iraq and the ongoing standoff between Ukraine and Russia as reminders of how important it is for the United States to secure its energy future – and the significance of the Keystone XL in that equation. Gerard:

“Many people are just starting to realize that, within just 10 years, we could supply 100 percent of the liquid fuel needed to run our country right here in North America. Yet, at the pace it’s going, it will take 10 years for the administration to approve a pipeline to our closest ally and neighbor: Canada. The administration has demonstrated it lacks the political leadership to take the steps necessary to make U.S. energy security a reality.”

Gerard said delaying the Keystone XL has delayed strengthening our energy partnership with Canada and job creation that’s especially coveted by men and women in the construction trades:

We cannot stand by while the administration waits – and waits – until it is politically convenient to do the right thing. Over 42,000 Americans are ready for these jobs today, and they shouldn’t have to wait for the dust to settle on the next election before they have a chance to take home a paycheck. Unfortunately, some have even dismissed or downplayed these jobs – perhaps because they don’t feel pipeline building and construction work has sufficient green veneer. But, for millions of American workers, those are the jobs they want.”

Gerard called Keystone XL a key component of U.S. energy and national security and pointed to overwhelming support from Americans for the project in recent polling, who see what engineers, scientists and other experts have seen – a project that would help America:

“That is another reason why Keystone XL is not a partisan issue. It’s an issue of national security, economic security and energy security.”

McGarvey said the Keystone XL is sending a signal to allies and adversaries alike around the world:

“In our view, Keystone is a litmus test of whether America is serious about national, regional and global energy security.  … Keystone is a signal that America is open for energy business, and that America is going to be helping our allies with energy resources so that they can be less dependent on energy resources from Russia and other areas of the globe. … North America’s Building Trades Unions believe the time for study and deliberation is over. The time is long past to put America’s skilled craft professionals to work on the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The time for study, analysis and debate in the public square on Keystone XL passed long ago. America needs the jobs that would be added in building the pipeline – as well as others added across the economy by undertaking an infrastructure project of this size. America needs the energy security that would come from getting more North American crude oil. We need a stronger partnership with Canada, our No. 1 source of imported oil, which has been treated badly because of politics in Washington. Even now, Gerard noted, the Canadians are looking seriously at other infrastructure that would get their oil to other customers:

“It shows the commitment on the part of the Canadians to secure their energy future and we hope that we … get the same message and are provided the same leadership by our elected officials to get our energy security in order and get our energy policy right. … The fundamental question for us as a nation is will we exercise political leadership and quit finding lame excuses and get on with it?”

It is time to get on with it. It’s time to build the Keystone XL 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.