EnergyFactor By ExxonMobil | Pespectives has a new home

Unhappy Anniversary

What do you get for a sixth anniversary? Etiquette dictates you present gifts of candy, iron, or wood.

Of course, there are some anniversaries we don’t want to celebrate, and today marks one that anyone who cares about economic growth – or government effectiveness, for that matter – would prefer not to observe.

Today, September 19, is the sixth anniversary of the date TransCanada filed its original application for permits to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The project would link Canada’s vast oil sands resource and the oil fields of North Dakota’s Bakken Shale to Gulf Coast refineries.

Six long years after that application was filed, the Obama administration still hasn’t given the go-ahead to start construction on a project its own research shows would increase U.S. gross domestic product by $3.4 billion.

Though the proposed pipeline is one of the most exhaustively studied, technologically innovative, and environmentally responsible infrastructure projects in history, it still remains just a proposal.

So what do we have to show for six years of waiting? Let’s recap:

  • The U.S. State Department released has four versions of environmental impact statements (here, here, here, and here). All reached the same basic conclusion, namely that Keystone XL would have little environmental impact and would not appreciably increase greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Other independent work by IHS and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (each cited by the State Department) reached similar, positive conclusions or bolsters the argument in favor of the pipeline.
  • Multiple public hearings were held in Washington, D.C., and in the states through which the pipeline would traverse.
  • The review process has generated more than 2.5 million comments from public.
  • Senators and members of congress from both major parties are on record expressing strong support for Keystone XL.
  • An overwhelming majority of the American public supports the pipeline. As The Washington Post wrote about a recent Pew Research Center poll, “Among ‘hard-pressed skeptics,’ ‘next generation left’ and ‘faith and family left,’ support for Keystone is two-to-one. So even a group like the ‘next generation left’ supports alternate energy over fossil fuels 83-11, it still backs Keystone 62-28.”

Even President Obama himself has said, “When it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we’ve got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources.”

There are endless reasons to say yes to Keystone XL, and no good justification for further delay. Six years of waiting is long enough.

Earlier this month Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker remarked, “To lead the world once again — in both expertise and quality — we must increase cooperation between industry, investors, and government. Updating our infrastructure demands public-private partnership.”

When it comes to Keystone XL, the private portion of this partnership is waiting. It is waiting to invest, waiting to hire, waiting to build, and waiting on the public side – i.e. the Obama administration – simply to make a decision.

On this sixth anniversary there will be no gifts, and there will be no celebration until the administration gives the green light for this needed project to proceed.


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