The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry

Yes, Keystone XL is in the National Interest

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 31, 2015

The long trail of “process” excuses for not approving the Keystone XL pipeline is coming to an end.

Five U.S. State Department reviews – all of them basically saying Keystone XL won’t significantly affect the environment – done.

Public hearings – done.

A new pipeline route through Nebraska – done.

By Monday, federal agencies must weigh in on whether Keystone XL is in the national interest. It is, as we’ll get into below.

national_interestThe point is, after more than six years of process and review by the White House, we’ve come to the end of the processing and the reviewing. The administration stretched to 76 months a pipeline approval process that typically takes 18 to 24 months. It turned Keystone XL into a political football, punted here and there for reasons that clearly weren’t in the national interest.

Protracting the process and delaying the jobs, economic stimulus and energy security Keystone XL would bring, is at odds with a strong majority of American voters who want the pipeline built and who also  don’t want President Obama to veto bipartisan legislation now emerging from Congress that would move Keystone XL’s construction off the drawing board into action.

The U.S. House has acted and this week the Senate followed suit. The American people have spoken, and so have their representatives in Congress. Check another box.

No more “process” reasons for delaying Keystone XL and its benefits. No more political games, no more stiff-arming the will of most Americans. Time to build. So says the compelling, national interest case for Keystone XL:

Jobs – In addition to clearing Keystone XL environmentally, the State Department said the pipeline’s construction would support 42,100 jobs. Well-paying jobs that working Americans want and need. The kind of jobs that help the middle class. Laborers International Union of North America President Terry O’Sullivan:

“To the tens of thousands of men and women in the construction industry this isn’t just a pipeline, it’s their mortgages, college tuitions, car payments and food on the table. And for our country this isn’t just a pipeline. It’s a lifeline to family security, energy security and national security.”

Economic Stimulus – State’s report estimated Keystone XL would put $2 billion in workers’ pockets and add $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP. It’s the kind of infrastructure investment the president has repeatedly called for, and for good reason. It’s grounded in good economics.

Because, it’s not just the bridge, the roads or the pipeline – it’s the way the positive impacts of these big projects ripple through the economy dynamically: the materials that are bought, the support services required, the workers who earn paychecks and, in turn, the spending those workers do because they have paychecks.

The president rightly said that America needs more than just a single oil pipeline – but the $5.4 billion, privately financed Keystone XL is an excellent place to start. An IHS study found that essential oil and natural gas infrastructure improvements could spur as much as $1.15 trillion in new private capital spending over the next decade while supporting 1.15 million new jobs and adding $120 billion on average per year to GDP. Keystone XL is Job 1. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The needlessly protracted fight over the Keystone XL pipeline only serves to deprive tens of thousands of hardworking Americans of well-paying jobs and our nation of a safe and efficient means of transporting much needed North American energy resources. Furthermore it has a chilling effect on infrastructure investment, generally, reminding all that government’s indecision must be a part of a risk calculus when deciding whether to invest in infrastructure.”

Energy Security – Keystone XL would deliver upwards of 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region in the Upper Midwest to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast – supporting well-paying refining sector jobs and adding to an already beneficial trading relationship with Canada.

No less significant would be the strengthening of America’s energy partnership with Canada, our No. 1 source of imported oil. Keystone XL would be part of expanding North American energy infrastructure, which would make our future sources of energy – fundamental to overall national security – more secure.

The security stakes with Keystone XL could hardly be higher, and failing to grasp them is failure to act in the national interest. Retired Gen. James Jones, the president’s former national security advisor:

“Any nation that fails to secure the energy its citizens need leaves itself vulnerable to the whims of those who may not share their national interests. … A nation begins to decline when it ceases to be able to make the decisions it must make, and it knows it must make, in order to support its own national interests and integrity. … If we fail to grasp the enormous opportunity presented by the Keystone XL pipeline, we will miss out on a chance to improve the energy security of the North American alliance.”

Keystone XL is in the national interest of the United States. The American people see it, Congress sees it. We hope the president, regardless of some of the things he has said in the past, now sees it. Gerard:

“Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill are speaking in one clear voice saying it’s time to build KXL. This is one of the most bipartisan bills we have seen in recent history.  We hope the president will seize this opportunity to work collaboratively with Congress to advance sound energy policy while creating thousands of jobs.”

Time to build, Mr. President.


Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.

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