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Keystone XL: In the National Interest

Mark Green's picture
American Petroleum Institute

Mark Green joined API after 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper, capping a 30-year career in print journalism. At API he is responsible for...

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  • Apr 23, 2013 11:00 pm GMT

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On the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama’s decision boils down to this: Is the $7 billion project in the United States’ national interest? Economic, energy and environmental considerations figure into the answer, but ultimately the president is charged with determining whether Keystone XL will make our country stronger and safer without significantly impacting the environment and the people along its 1,179-mile route.

We say yes – for a number of good reasons.

The pipeline will make the U.S. stronger – economically, by creating jobs and providing broad economic stimulus, and more energy secure by bringing more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day to our Gulf Coast refineries from a friendly, stable source (Canada) as well as the U.S. Bakken region. As for the environment, four separate State Department reviews have said the pipeline can be built and operated while posing “no significant impacts.”

Over the next few days we’ll take a closer look at the main issues that should persuade the president to approve the full Keystone XL project – economics/energy, pipeline safety and the environment – developed from API’s official public comments on the State Department’s most recent assessment. These comments underscore what the oil and natural gas industry and other pipeline supporters have been saying for more than four years – that the full Keystone XL should be approved. API:

We support (the State Department’s) findings which confirm, once again, that there will be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route. After more than four years of an unprecedentedly thorough review, it is time to move forward beyond the findings of this review, which has been conducted in coordination with dozens of other federal, state and local agencies, and determine that this project is in our nation’s interest.

API welcomes the next stage of the Keystone XL approval process, a period of inter-agency discussion of whether the project serves the national interest that is expected to involve the Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security departments and the Environmental Protection Agency. API:

With the environmental assessment repeatedly assessed, it is time to move forward in this national interest determination process. … This project is absolutely in our nation’s interest. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline should be approved immediately. … It will create jobs now when we need them most. It will help bolster economic growth and provide energy security. With such positive contributions to the U.S. economy and the potential for increased supplies from our stable neighbor, Canada, we hope that (State) recognizes this project is in our national interest and facilitates a swift approval.

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I K's picture
I K on Apr 23, 2013

Surely it is better to have the pipeline and transport the crude via that rather than ship or tankers. The notion that without the pipeline Canada will produce notably less oil is more likely than not wrong.  However governments should always try to encourage infrastructure builds to do more than originally planned. For instance will it cost that much more to add say two times 6GW HVDC line along with the pipeline so Canada and the USA have an additional 12GW of transmission capacity (a benefit to wind/solar/hydro and fossil fuels). Likewise it would cost not much more to add a bunch of fibre bundles to the route too to allow many more terabits of data between the nations. Effectively encourage companies to work together to share costs.  Anyway the biggest mistake was naming the thing XL. Without that eXtra Large tag at the end it would likely have had a lot less resistance.

Jim Pierobon's picture
Jim Pierobon on Apr 23, 2013

How about this for an all-of-the-above strategy: Approve the Keystone XL pipeline AND put a price on the carbon it emits, as well. This way there is something a lot of people can agree on and something a lot of people can disagree about — often the only way to get something done in modern-day Washington.

Of course, President Obama has the authority to approve the pipeline without Congress. The path to a carbon tax goes through Congress which requires substantial backroom bargaining. Is he up to it? Do fossil fuel interests want the pipeline THIS much? 

I K's picture
I K on Apr 23, 2013

Make it an energy tax rather than a carbon tax and it would have a lot more support.

A 2c/kWh on primary energy tax would likely see the USA cut primary energy demand by 10 trillion kWh annually.

It would add about 4c/kWh to electricity and 70 cents a gallon to gas and bring in $500B annually (use it to cut other taxes or introduce a “NHS”)

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 23, 2013

Why penalize clean energy?

One of the main arguments for a carbon tax is to raise its price in relation to clean energy (nuclear & renewables), making both more viable.

It’s not just about the deficit.

Pieter Siegers's picture
Pieter Siegers on Apr 25, 2013

Actually the idea of energy tax is not a bad one.

The tax would of course be adjusted higher or lower according to the level an energy form polluts.

Let’s face it, green energies do pollute a bit also, as you have to manufacture products, even when you do that by using exclusively renewables.

So big dirty oil will bear a high energy tax, and for example solar energy a very low one. Biofuels will be intermediate because of the current water and food troubles we face.

This way nobody can argue against it and will be accepted easier, and the objective – to propel faster to a cleaner energy model – is easier obtained.


Pieter Siegers's picture
Pieter Siegers on Apr 25, 2013

Mark, you keep looking at the short term benefits that actually are proven incorrect by many others.

I’d like you to spend some time to rethink your opinions, thinking of how our future would look like with increased oil use. Or ask your children their opinions.

For a start, you should see the movie Lorax, substitute the trees by big dirty oil, and rethink what you actually are advocating in your articles.

Then come back and confess you were all wrong about it.


Pieter Siegers's picture
Pieter Siegers on Apr 25, 2013

No, it’s best to cancel the pipeline, for the sake of the world.

I think the USA and Canada ow that to the world.

Oil and other fossil fuels have caued enough trouble, it’s time for us to stop.


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