The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL – Still a Good Idea

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 25, 2014

A year ago President Obama clarified his position on the Keystone XL pipeline, saying that for him to approve the project it would need to meet two tests – that KXL would be in the national interest and would not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

The second point first. The environmental test has been passed – five times, in fact. The U.S. State Department’s fifth environmental assessment – which examined the Keystone XL’s construction, operation and the impact of increased oil sands development as a result of the pipeline – concluded that the project would have no effect on oil sands production and no significant effect on the environment.

The Keystone XL is in the national interest. The State Department says the project would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to U.S. refineries, create 42,100 jobs during its construction phase and provide broad economic stimulus befitting a $5.3 billion, privately financed, shovel-ready piece of infrastructure. The KXL’s construction would significantly increase U.S. energy security, helping facilitate full oil sands development so that by 2024 the United States could see 100 percent of its liquid fuel needs supplied domestically and from Canada. The folks at Oil Sands Fact Check have a new video that underscores a number of these points:

The Keystone XL has been under review by Washington for more than five years. Political leadership, not more political gamesmanship, is needed to advance the KXL and serve the interests of the strong majority of Americans who support its construction.

“Political gamesmanship” refers to those who keep up the charade that the process hasn’t gone on long enough, that there haven’t been enough governmental reviews, public hearings or enough studies by engineers, scientists and experts

For example, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California argued this week against legislation that would advance the Keystone XL, saying the bill would “cut short” the review process. Cut short? We’re going on six years now. Sen. Boxer spoke of protecting American families, but every concern has been studied and addressed, long ago. Efforts to get KXL out of the review process and into the construction phase are about protecting the families of U.S. construction workers who dearly want the tens of thousands of jobs the project would create, as well as the interests of most Americans. Delaying the Keystone XL delays job creation and economic opportunity. 

Speaking of opportunity, it’s good to see U.S. House passage of bipartisan legislation that would modernize and reform the permitting process for pipelines, power lines and other energy infrastructure that cross the U.S. borders into Canada and Mexico. The existing system is broken – illustrated by the Keystone XL debacle – and threatens to chill energy investment. API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco:

“One of the biggest threats to our current energy revolution is government imposed roadblocks to building infrastructure. … As our North American energy production grows, building the infrastructure to move these supplies to consumers is vital because Americans depend on stable, affordable energy to fuel their daily lives. The U.S. should have a robust and consistent oversight process for all energy infrastructure projects, but the process should be fair and balanced. We need to reduce regulatory burdens on the private sector to stimulate investment in our new energy reality. Americans need energy policies that will create jobs, power our economy, and lower prices for consumers.”  


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.