Talk Infrastructure – Build Keystone XL Pipeline

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 11, 2015

Vice President Joe Biden underscored the administration’s call for infrastructure spending during a Bloomberg Government event that focused on the country’s deteriorating delivery and transportation systems. Some highlights:

  • The Washington politics of infrastructure spending is challenging. “The idea that there is a debate on the Hill on the need to invest in infrastructure is mind blowing,” Biden said.
  • The world’s energy epicenter is North America, and the U.S. needs major investments in energy infrastructure. “We will face a national security dilemma” if we don’t enhance our energy infrastructure, he said.
  • Companies need to have certainty that they can get their products to market efficiently.

Let’s pause a moment and consider these valid points on infrastructure from the vantage point of this administration’s crowning infrastructure decision (or non-decision): the Keystone XL pipeline.

In the Keystone XL, the administration has had the opportunity – for more than six years – to green light $5.4 billion in private infrastructure spending that would create jobs, boost the economy and transport oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region – reliably and safely – to our Gulf Coast refineries, enhancing America’s energy security. All with the simple stroke of the president’s pen. Granted, the vice president’s Bloomberg remarks covered more than pipelines, but Keystone XL certainly would hit on all of the above, mentioned just above.

Unfortunately, long ago Keystone XL was relegated to a blind spot with a White House that has urged and implored infrastructure investments but has refused, for political reasons, to see that a shovel-ready, major infrastructure project – one clearly in the national interest – was right at hand.

Certainly, the vice president’s focus – as well as the focus of a number of speakers at the Bloomberg event – was on infrastructure spending by government and how to finance it. There’s another unfortunate thing: The mindset that without government spending, there’s no infrastructure investment. Keystone XL and a number of privately financed projects, ranging from other pipelines to liquefied natural gas export projects, argue otherwise.

 An IHS study found that essential infrastructure investments in just the oil and natural gas sector could encourage up to $1.15 trillion in new private capital investment over the next 10 years, support 1.15 million new jobs and add $120 billion on average to our nation’s GDP. No protracted debates over funding necessary – just sound policy and regulatory decisions that offer private investors a fair shake in getting through the government review process. In other words, a process 180 degrees different from the White House’s handling of Keystone XL.

Again, the administration’s goal of creating a modern infrastructure system for the country has merit. But it is missing – even discouraging – the best path to reach those goals, at least in the energy space. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“We welcome the administration’s call to action on infrastructure, now we need them to act – our industry is ready to go to work. … America is the No. 1 producer of natural gas in the world, and we’ll soon be No. 1 in oil, but we cannot deliver these products to consumers without a modern infrastructure system. We need pipelines like Keystone XL to fully realize our energy potential. Pipelines are one of the safest modes for transporting product and we need more of them. Keystone is but one example of a pipeline that, if approved, could benefit consumers by increasing the amount of fuel to the market place while stimulating job and economic growth, and all without costing taxpayers a dime.”


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.

Energy Tomorrow is a project of the American Petroleum Institute – the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry – speaking for the industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media.