American_Pipeline_Feature_03-2014

Keystone XL and the national interest

This morning the Senate Foreign Services Committee held a hearing to ask whether building the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries in the United States is in the national interest.

American_Pipeline_03-2014It’s a good question, one the Obama administration has been struggling to answer for more than five years.

The real question is why it is taking them so long, since it obviously would be in the United States’ economic and national security interest to see that the pipeline gets built.

That point was hammered home by one of the panel’s witnesses, Karen Harbert of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Karen touched on the ever-changing dynamics of the global economy to explain the importance of moving forward with Keystone XL:

At a time when North Sea oil output is falling, large emerging economies are growing into large oil consumers, putting pressure on spare oil production capacity globally. Potential political instability in many producing countries is also on the rise, and greater output from a close friend and ally like Canada is needed and welcome.

I was pleased that committee chairman Robert Menendez began the hearing by noting the full support for Keystone XL exhibited by the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Earlier this week ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson hailed organized labor for helping in the fight for Keystone XL and its strong contribution to our energy policy discussions.

2 million public comments

The State Department’s public comment period on the Keystone XL project ended Friday, and officials report they received more than 2 million comments from individuals and organizations weighing in on whether the pipeline should be approved. ExxonMobil’s comments supporting a public-interest designation can be found here.

The comments offer a comprehensive argument for proceeding with the pipeline, and they note the contributions offered by experts such as IHS and the Energy Information Administration.

Ironically, one the strongest arguments for going forward with the project is provided by the organization charged with making the final determination: The U.S. State Department.

The State Department’s own study shows that completing the pipeline will increase U.S. gross domestic product by $3.4 billion.

The department also has noted that Keystone XL would also bring a property tax windfall to localities along the project’s corridor, without impacting residential or agricultural property values.

Given that Keystone XL would be a safe, responsible method for transporting needed supplies of energy, given that it would create jobs and boost economic growth, and given that the State Department notes it will not appreciably increase greenhouse gas emissions, it is hard to see how anyone could reasonably dispute that Keystone XL is in our nation’s interest.