Keystone passes climate test; President urged to act

Feb 14, 2014

After five years of delays, the voices in support of the Keystone pipeline are growing a little louder. The entire Senate Republican caucus sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The letter came one week after the release of a U.S. Department of State study that concluded the pipeline will not have any significant environmental impact.

The government study found that its impact on the climate would be minimal, which supporters said meets President Obama’s requirements for allowing the project to be built.

In its final environmental review, the U.S. State Department found the Canada- U.S. oil pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions, as some feared, because the oil sands in Alberta will be developed anyway.

“There is no question that Canada will develop these resources. The only question is whether the oil will be sold to the United States or to our economic competitors abroad. Rejecting the Keystone pipeline will cost thousands of American jobs and prevent our country from accessing a large supply of North American energy,” the Senate Republicans wrote in their letter.

The $5.3 billion, privatelyfunded Keystone XL pipeline is the largest, ready-to build infrastructure project in the United States. The complete route of the pipeline will run from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The pipeline would transport an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.

The Washington Post editorial board expressed last week, “It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics” and act on the Keystone XL pipeline. The Post criticized environmentalists’ opposition to the jobs project, as their claims have been debunked time and again by government analysis. The editorial stated, “The real downside to rejecting the project concerns jobs (construction would create at least several thousand), relations with Canada and the message that arbitrary decision-making would send to investors and other nations.”

In addition to The Washington Post, MSNBC anchor Ed Shultz voiced support for the jobs and energy project, recently declaring, “I think the president should give this project the stamp of approval.” He later told his audience, “We’re not really confronting reality here” and referenced the State Department’s latest findings that confirmed the project would be better for safety and the environment.

Previous members of the president’s cabinet are also weighing in on Keystone. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the project a “win-win,” saying that it would benefit U.S. energy security, and former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, said Obama’s decision on the pipeline would be a “political one and not a scientific one.”

Scientific evidence, public support, and common sense should dictate that the president would end the delays and approve Keystone XL, supporters believe. But after over five years of review, there is still no guarantee a decision will come soon or the project will get built. The fate of Keystone XL, along with tens of thousands of American jobs, now rests solely with the president since the Senate has refused to take up House-passed legislation.

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama acknowledged that “one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy.” The Keystone XL pipeline is a project supporters believe will advance both American energy security and job creation, without threatening safety or the environment.

“We are one step closer toward approval of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), a pipeline supporter, said in a statement. “Not only is it unacceptable, but it’s embarrassing that we cannot approve a pipeline application in the time it took us to fight World War II.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the report means radical environmentalists are running out of delay tactics on the project. “It’s time to move this project forward and put an end to this bureaucratic red tape. If, as the president said in his State of the Union speech, he truly wants this to be a ‘year of action,’ there would be no better way to kick it off than authorizing construction of this important project,” he said. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor