Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


January 24, 2017


When it comes to pipelines, Inauguration Day brought quite a change at the White House:

President Donald Trump took steps to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, marking the start of an era with fewer constraints on the oil industry to the chagrin of environmentalists who have bitterly fought the projects.

The moves, among Trump’s first actions since taking office, are a major departure from the Obama administration, which rejected TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone proposal in 2015 and has kept Dakota Access blocked since September.

Contrast this to the Obama administration appeasing extreme, “keep it in the ground” groups.

It’s great seeing a president who treats North American energy abundance as a benefit to producing jobs and growth.

“For too long, private infrastructure investment has been held hostage by government interference driven by fringe interests,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Today’s Executive Orders on the Dakota Access pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline demonstrate that we finally have an administration that is serious about putting American energy to work for the entire economy.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) agreed.

Both pipeline projects have been unfairly held up. On multipleoccasions, the Obama administration used federal agencies to put up barriers blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline’s completion. All that’s needed is for the Army Corps of Engineers to issue an easement to allow construction under the Missouri River.

And with the Keystone XL pipeline, even with seven years of reviews finding it was safe, President Obama flat-out rejected it in 2015.

Both projects would create jobs and boost economic growth.

For instance, the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would transport oil from North Dakota to refineries in Illinois, has already created 12,000 jobs and will “inject $156 million in sales and income taxes to local economies,” according to Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline.

As for the Keystone XL pipeline, it would transport 800,000 barrels a day of Canadian and North Dakota oil to Gulf Coast refineries produce big economic benefits:

According to the FSEIS [the State Department’s environmental analysis], 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).

With the strokes of President Trump’s pen, the attack on modernizing American energy infrastructure is over. Now, we can get on with using American energy to create more good-paying jobs and boost economic growth.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

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.

Read more