Mar 10, 2014 - 5:30pm

6 Reasons Why the Keystone XL Pipeline is in America’s National Interest


Senior Editor, Digital Content

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A welder along the Gulf Coast Project pipeline, part of the Keystone XL project.
A welder along the Gulf Coast Project pipeline, part of the Keystone XL project, in Atoka, Oklahoma. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been nearly 125,000 public comments posted on the Keystone XL pipeline at Regulation.gov. That number could rise to as much as 3 million when all is said and done.

In comments addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21stCentury Energy, makes six key points on why the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest and should be approved.

1. It Will Not Harm the Environment

The State Department’s environmental analysis found:

[T]he project will have “limited adverse environmental impacts” during construction and operation…. Multiple federal, state and local agencies have been involved, and opportunities for public input were provided throughout the process…. It has the approval of both the Governor of Nebraska and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

2. It Will Give the U.S. More Oil Supply Flexibility

Consumers will also benefit from a larger, more diverse pipeline system that is more able to handle shifts in demand and supply, such as when hurricanes or global unrest occurs.  U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast rely mostly on foreign imports of heavy crude oil, particularly from Venezuela and Mexico whose volumes of crude exports are in decline, and less stable countries in the Middle East and Africa.  When completed, the KXL pipeline will have the nominal capacity to supply over 800,000 barrels per day of heavy Canadian crude oil to U.S. refineries and new market access and improved distribution to Gulf refineries for 100,000 barrels per day of U.S. domestic crude produced in the Bakken region in Montana and North Dakota. 

3. The U.S. Will Get More Oil from a Friendly Supplier

While expansion of U.S. domestic energy sources must remain a top priority, imported oil will continue to play a key role in meeting energy demand and oil from Canada can help meet our supply and demand challenges.  The increased supply of crude oil from KXL will greatly contribute to our economic and energy security, and our move toward North American energy self-sufficiency…. [C]ombined U.S. and Canadian production are expected to grow by over 3,100 million barrels per day by 2016, and Canadian imports to the U.S. could increase by 900 thousand barrels during that period, causing crude imports from outside of North America to drop by forty-one percent.

4. Increased Energy Trade Strengthens the North American Economy

[T]he approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will help allow for the continued growth in development of the oil sands and an increased flow of trade between the U.S. and Canada.  For every U.S. dollar spent on Canadian products, Canadians return 89 cents through the purchase of U.S. goods and services.  Compared to the 27 cent return that we get from energy trade partners like Venezuela, the benefits of Canadian trade are obvious, as are the energy security advantages.

5. When It Comes to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Keystone XL is the Best Option

Oil from the [Canadian] oil sands is destined to reach the U.S. and our refineries.  Efforts to stop crude transportation projects like KXL will have no impact on the development of oil sands.  The recently released FSEIS [the State Department’s environmental analysis] states that approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S. The FSEIS also states that KXL will produce 28% – 42% less GHG emissions than any other possible alternative oil sands transportation scenarios, adding additional benefit for the environment. 

6. Keystone XL Will Produce Jobs, Wages, and Grow the Economy

According to the FSEIS, 42,100 Americans will be employed in direct, indirect, and induced jobs during construction of Keystone XL, generating $2.02 billion in earnings for workers.  In addition, the $3.3 billion project will generate $66 million in sales tax for goods and services during construction that will infuse economic vitality into local communities.  The FSEIS also states that $3.1 billion will be spent on construction contracts, materials, and other support for Keystone XL – much-needed revenue for companies still struggling to recover from a hard recession.  It will also provide $55.6 million in new property tax revenue in 17 counties with Keystone facilities…. Overall, the project will contribute $3.4 billion during construction to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The arguments that Harbert and other pipeline proponents is winning the public opinion battle as seen in this ABC News/Washington Post poll [emphasis mine]:

Support for the Keystone XL pipeline reached a two-year high in the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, with the public overwhelmingly saying it would create jobs, while dividing on its potential environmental impact.

Two-thirds favor government approval of the 1,700-mile, $5.4 billion pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, up 6 points from 2012, vs. two in 10 opposed. Eighty-five percent think it would create jobs, with 62 percent feeling that way strongly – up 11 percentage points.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been examined and analyzed for over five years. Throughout this process it’s been repeatedly found to be good for jobs and the economy and safe for the environment. It’s time to approve it.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.