Reaction to Report that Keystone XL is Environmentally Sound

Mar 4, 2013

A Caterpillar mining truck carries a load of oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Photographer: Jimmy Jeong/Bloomberg.

In case you were a normal American and finishing up your workweek last Friday afternoon, you may have missed the State Department releasing a draft supplemental environmental impact statement finding that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t have significant environmental impact.

Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy called the news, “long overdue, and continues to build a strong case supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Here are some other reactions to the report. The conclusion: The time for study is over. The administration should approve Keystone XL’s construction. Let’s build it now.

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board:

If the Alberta oil doesn't flow south to America via the Keystone XL, it will flow west to China via other pipelines or rail. It will also flow to the Gulf Coast by other means, including pipelines and rail to East Coast ports, and then via tankers in the Atlantic and around Florida. Keystone XL will have a smaller "carbon footprint" than these alternatives.

As for the danger of spills, the high-tech pipeline will be buried underground and contain valves that allow for rapid detection and shutoff. The environmental risk is arguably greater on a tanker. Even if the oil sands were shut down entirely, Gulf Coast refineries would merely use the similarly heavy oil from Venezuela, also shipped via tankers.

Thus the issue is not whether the oil will flow but how much Americans will benefit. A rule of thumb is that for every dollar of imported foreign oil, North America receives about 10 cents of the economic benefit. The Venezuelans, Saudis and others get the rest. The benefit from oil produced in North America is roughly 80-90 cents of each $1. This includes the cost of producing and transporting the oil, and the ancillary jobs and sales that flow from it. The Keystone XL has also reserved space for about 250,000 barrels a day of oil produced in the U.S., which means a new and environmentally safer outlet for oil from the booming Bakken fields of North Dakota.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND):

I am pleased that the State Department has taken the next step towards what should be the eventual approval by the President of the Keystone XL pipeline. The statement released today was the result of what is now one of the most thorough studies of any pipeline project, and the draft SEIS suggests that they have found little reason for further delay of this project. I have supported this project since it was initially proposed because it is good for North Dakota and good for our nation.

The State Department should now announce a concrete timeline for comments to be submitted and for a “national interest” determination to be made. The State Department and the President must adhere to this timeline and finally approve the construction of the pipeline. This will put thousands of Americans to work on a project that will deliver oil to U.S. refineries from our friendly neighbor and ally to the north.

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND):

After nearly five years of review, and a favorable supplemental study, the president needs to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. We again ask, as we have before, that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry provide us with an actual timeline and some certainty as to when this long delayed project will finally get a decision.

The Keystone XL project will provide tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to help us reduce our deficit and debt, and it will do so with good environmental stewardship. With 70 percent of the American people in support of it and 12 million Americans still out of work, there is no reasonable excuse to postpone a decision any further.

American Petroleum Institute Executive Vice President Marty Durbin:

The president could truly implement his ‘all of the above’ energy strategy by approving Keystone XL,” Durbin said. “We hope the president will choose to side with the American people who strongly support the pipeline in poll after poll. The project will create thousands of good paying jobs for the safest, most highly trained workers of the building trades at a time when construction workers have an unemployment rate higher than the national average. Keystone XL will also enhance our energy security. It would be a win win for the U.S.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Assistant Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Chip Yost:

Americans are frustrated with Washington’s inaction, and Keystone XL is a prime example of inexcusable bureaucracy and red tape. It’s time for the Administration to expeditiously complete its review and approve the pipeline to put Americans back to work.

Bloomberg television had a good panel discussion on the economics of Keystone XL and increased North American energy security.

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