Happy Birthday: The Keystone XL Pipeline Battle Turns Six
Capitol Hill lawmakers are celebrating the Keystone XL pipeline’s sixth birthday this year by (once again) urging the White House to speedily approve the pipeline.
On Thursday night the House passed a slew of energy-related legislation aimed at boosting oil and natural gas production as well as approving Keystone. This came after a bipartisan group of 45 senators sent a letter to President Obama to make a decision on the pipeline after more than six years of delays.
“This is a simple decision to improve trade with our closest ally that could – and should – have been made years ago,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was joined by dozens of other senators in calling for a decision on the project’s sixth anniversary.
Six years ago today, the Canadian pipeline company TransCanada applied for a Presidential Permit to build a massive pipeline that would eventually carry 830,000 barrels of oil sands per day from remote areas of Alberta, Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast.
“The president needs to stop dragging his feet and allow folks to get to work,” Murkowski said. “There is no dispute over whether this project is in the national interest. The energy security and economic benefits are clear, and years of environmental reviews have determined that the project will not adversely impact the environment.”
Pipeline supporters said the project would enhance U.S. energy independence and give a much needed boost to the economy. But the Keystone debate has not centered around the project’s economic benefits, but instead has focused on the environmental impacts of the pipeline — which have been contested by environmental groups.
Environmentalists and many left-wing groups came out against the project, saying it would endanger water supplies and exacerbate global warming. Activists successfully convinced President Obama to approve the pipeline on environmental grounds after failing to convince the public the project would be bad for the economy.
But environmentalist claims that the pipeline would be bad for the climate and environment have been undercut by government and independent reports showing the project would not have a major impact on carbon dioxide emissions — which environmentalists say drives global warming.
Obama’s own State Department has now twice found that Keystone would not have significant impacts on the environment or global warming. A recent study by the American Action Forum found that by delaying Keystone, the White House could allow about 7.4 million tons of carbon dioxide to be emitted since a delay was put on the project’s decision in 2012.
“The market will find a way to deliver products to customers,” wrote Catrina Rorke, AAF’s energy and environment policy director. “Replacing pipeline with rail-based crude oil transport presents real, measurable risks to the climate, our natural environment, and Americans’ lives and safety.”
“There is a distinct possibility for an indefinite administrative delay to building Keystone XL — a possibility we cannot afford,” Rorke added.
Republicans and some Democrats are now stepping up the pressure on Obama to immediately approve the pipeline to help grow the economy and create a more stable climate for businesses.
“Our economy needs certainty to grow/and to create jobs,” lawmakers wrote to Obama. The uncertainty, created by failing to make a decision has a chilling effect on other investment and ínftastructure development in our country and holds back our economy.”
“The Keystone XL pipeline is shovel-ready and, according to the State Department, creates more than 42,000 jobs. It is privately funded and would help us strengthen America’s energy security,” lawmakers added.
It’s unclear when (or even if) the Obama administration will make a decision on the pipeline, especially before the election which is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in donations from environmentalists.
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