The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Keystone XL, Politics and Six Years of ‘Squandered Opportunity’

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 16, 2014

This week the Keystone XL pipeline reaches a dubious anniversary – six years waiting for the Obama administration to approve a shovel-ready, privately financed infrastructure project that would create jobs while strengthening America’s energy, economic and national security.

airplaneIt has been an unfortunate, unnecessary wait. Such projects historically are approved by Washington in one to two years. In the six years Keystone XL has been left on hold by this White House, 10,000 miles of oil and natural gas pipelines have been built in the United States.

While Keystone XL languishes, Canada – our neighbor, friend and largest supplier of imported oil – gets the cold shoulder from an administration that has dithered, delayed and dumbfounded its way into obstructing a vital piece of energy infrastructure – pleasing a small minority instead of advancing the national interest. Cindy Schild, API senior refining and oil sands manager, talked about Keystone XL at age 6 during a conference call with reporters:

“ … for Keystone XL, what should have been a routine approval process lasting less than two years has been politicized into six years of squandered opportunity. 

By now the case for Keystone XL is well established, but a quick review to mark anniversary No. 6:

  • 830,000 barrels of oil delivered per day – about a fourth of that from the U.S. Bakken region
  • 42,100 jobs created, according to the U.S. State Department
  • $3.4 billion overall contribution to the U.S. economy while supporting $3.1 billion in construction contracts and materials
  • 70 percent of registered U.S. voters in support, with 78 percent agreeing the pipeline would strengthen America


“Keystone XL is just as important today as it was six years ago. New crises overseas make clear the value of securing a stable, reliable supply of energy from our own domestic production and from Canada.  The 830,000 barrels of oil per day Keystone XL will transport from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region will move the U.S. considerably closer to the ability to supply 100 percent of our liquid fuels needs from right here in North America within 10 years.”  

The project’s opponents have spent the better part of the past six years lobbing up unsupported environmental claims and challenging the review process. In fact, the State Department has conducted five exhaustive studies, repeatedly finding Keystone XL is safe for the environment – a conclusion reached by other analysis as well. Schild:

“By refusing to let Keystone XL move forward, the Obama administration is catering to a small minority at the expense of America’s national interest and the wishes of the vast majority of ordinary Americans. … The sole question before the State Department remains ‘Is the Keystone XL pipeline in the national interest of the United States?’ The overwhelming evidence of six years says ‘yes,’ and so do bipartisan majorities of the American people. If President Obama will not exercise leadership on Keystone XL, Congress must act.”

It’s too bad we’re marking the sixth anniversary of a project stuck in a holding pattern. America should instead be celebrating four years of additional crude oil flowing into U.S. refineries, a closer energy partnership with trusted ally Canada and all of the job and economic benefits experts have said would accrue to this country with construction and operation of an infrastructure project of this scope.

The Keystone XL should be built – for the energy, for the jobs, for the national interest.


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.