President Obama just erected yet another roadblock to Keystone XL. He now says the State Department will only approve the 1,200-mile pipeline connecting oil sands in Canada and northern U.S. crude oil to refineries in Texas if it does not significantly boost carbon dioxide emissions.
Obama’s position on the pipeline is increasingly unpopular. In recent weeks, two more Democratic Senators -— North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu — have publicly signaled they support Keystone XL.
The President needs to reconsider his position. Full approval of Keystone XL would generate huge economic returns and put this country on a path to true energy security.
Back in 2011, Obama bemoaned the fact that “politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet.” He vowed to break that trend.
Approval of Keystone XL would do more to wean America off oil from hostile or unstable nations than any energy project in decades. Yet in the two years since Obama first made the vow, he’s done nothing but drag his feet on the pipeline. At some point, we have to wonder whether the president is putting a narrow political agenda above America’s energy security needs.
It’s estimated that full development of North America’s energy reserves, plus a small contribution from biofuels, could supply all of America’s liquid fuel needs within 12 years. An essential element of that strategy is full approval of Keystone XL.
Keystone XL would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil to American refineries every day. Of that total, roughly 700,000 barrels per day would come from Canada, our close neighbor and staunch ally. That’s about as much crude oil as we currently import from Venezuela.
By itself, Keystone could end our need for oil imports from Oman, Chad, Algeria, and Iraq, altogether. Imports from those countries amount to $70 million sent overseas, daily. With Keystone XL, that money would be redirected to Canada, our largest foreign oil supplier, which is losing almost $15 billion per year because of limited access to global markets for its oil.
Keystone XL also will boost Canadian oil sands development, which could generate demand for U.S. goods and services and add hundreds of thousands of skilled, well-paying jobs in U.S. manufacturing, engineering, construction, and related services. This will add roughly $86 billion to U.S. GDP by 2035, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
As for the domestic economic benefits, building Keystone would create an estimated 20,000 well-paying jobs. By 2035, it’s estimated that the pipeline could support as many as 500,000 jobs.
It’s no surprise, then, that organized labor has been highly critical of Obama’s opposition to the project.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that despite massive public investments in green energy sources, a scant 13 percent of America’s energy will come from renewables in 2035.
There’s no getting around the fact that America will continue to need energy from traditional sources. The question is, do we want to get that energy from Canada and domestic sources — or do we want to import it from unstable regions? There are also many additional acute environmental problems that come from producing oil in countries with less exacting safety standards and then shipping it half way around the world.
The truth is that Keystone XL has been under regulatory review at the state and federal level for nearly five years. While the environmental impact of a project of this scope should absolutely be considered, Keystone XL’s environmental safety is now beyond reasonable doubt.
There’s just no excuse for delaying construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Even the 0resident’s own party and supporters are frustrated with his inaction. The time for approval is now.
CHRIS FAULKNER is the CEO of Breitling Energy Companies, based in Dallas.