Posted July 28, 2015
As a pending energy issue whose lack of resolution is penalizing U.S. consumers and U.S. energy security, the Keystone XL pipeline may be unsurpassed in its importance.
It’s a $5.4 billion piece of strategic energy infrastructure that unfortunately has become a political football during nearly seven years of White House delay. It’s delay not based on Keystone XL’s energy and economic merits or its climate impacts – all exhaustively analyzed by five U.S. State Department reviews (latest one here). Rather, the project has been delayed because of an extreme, off-oil agenda whose proponents made a privately financed infrastructure project that this country needs into a political symbol.
We have these late developments:
- Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, in a recent letter to President Obama, urges Keystone XL’s approval – citing his state’s desire for the job and economic benefits that would accompany the project’s construction.
- South Dakota officials are holding public hearings this week on Keystone XL builder TransCanada’s request for a reissued construction permit. The company’s original permit to build the leg of the project that crosses the state expired, victimized by the president’s failure to decide.
- Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate and former secretary of state, continues to keep her Keystone XL position to herself. “If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question,” Clinton said this week in New Hampshire, when asked whether she would sign a bill approving the pipeline.
Gov. Ricketts’ letter to the president is significant given his state’s meticulous work approving the pipeline’s route there – a process upheld by the state’s highest court. The letter:
Like many other Nebraskans, I support the revised route and the construction of the pipeline; however, you alone have the power to approve this important infrastructure project that will bring good-paying jobs and much-needed tax revenue to Nebraska counties during construction and for years to come. Consequently, I urge you to issue a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the findings of your own State Department studies, the Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest and most modem pipeline built in the United States. As recent events have demonstrated, it is critically important that our country deploy the most modern infrastructure and technology available to ensure the safety of our communities.
The public hearings in South Dakota coincide with the recent announcement that the existing Keystone pipeline system (Keystone XL would be an expansion) has safely delivered more than 1 billion barrels of Canadian and American oil with minimal environmental and zero groundwater impact. Ken Cohen’s Perspectives Blog:
The original Keystone pipeline is an economic engine for the regions it passes through, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes to counties, townships, and to school, fire, and natural resource districts. Keystone XL would only enhance these economic benefits, while transporting crude oil in the safest manner possible.
TransCanada’s Corey Goulet, president, Keystone Projects:
The facts supporting the project today are even stronger than they were in 2010. Keystone XL was a good project for South Dakotans in 2010 and it is an even better project today. Keystone XL represents a choice for South Dakotans about where and how they want to get the energy and products they need for their everyday lives. This pipeline will be built with the hands of American workers to transport Canadian and American oil to lessen our dependence on millions of barrels of crude oil imported from the Middle East and Venezuela, who do not share America’s values or interests.
Indeed, the safety of the existing Keystone system argues for its expansion with construction of the Keystone XL. Goulet said TransCanada has worked “respectfully, honestly and collaboratively” with South Dakotans and has acquired 100 percent of easements from private landowners to build the pipeline in the state. Goulet:
Keystone XL would deploy “59 special conditions and dozens of other extra spill prevention and mitigation measures – such as burying pipe deeper in the ground and under waterways, increasing inspections, increasing the number of shut-off valves – that will provide even greater safeguards to protect groundwater and aquifers.”
Keystone XL should have been approved years ago. As things stand, the White House is saying no to Canada – even though it’s the United States’ top trading partner and No. 1 source of imported oil, and despite Canada’s national commitment to environmental protections – while it says yes to a deal with Iran that could have global energy impacts.
The Keystone XL pipeline is justified by environmental science, economics and our nation’s strategic energy needs. So, as we’ve been saying for going on seven years now, stay tuned …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.