February 12, 2015
The House and Senate have now passed bipartisan legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Seems like the only one who doesn’t support it is President Obama. And yet opposition to the pipeline is inexplicable if you know the facts behind the issue.
First, the Keystone XL is the fourth phase of the Keystone pipeline system. Phase 1 currently transports nearly 600,000 barrels a day of the same tar sands crude oil from Alberta across three Canadian provinces and six states to refineries in Illinois. That pipeline has been running for nearly five years.
Phase 2 connects the Phase 1 pipeline in Nebraska to Oklahoma and was finished in 2011. Phase 3, which is nearly finished and received Obama’s blessing, connects the pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas refineries.
To be clear: the U.S. has been importing and refining that Canadian oil environmentalists are so worried about for five years.
The Keystone XL would create a second pipeline, starting at the same place in Canada as Phase 1, transporting about 830,000 barrels a day through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. And it could also pick up 100,000 barrels of U.S. oil from Montana’s Bakken formation.
Second, because Obama has stonewalled the project, Canada will ship that oil by rail. The CEO of Transcanada, the company responsible for building the pipeline, recently said, “We are approaching 1.2 million barrels per day of [rail-] loading capacity—nobody has waited for Keystone XL pipeline to get built.”
However, pipelines are generally considered cleaner and safer than rail. Without the Keystone XL, that oil will come to the U.S. by rail, which is why there is no environmental benefit to killing the project.
Third, the president constantly promotes new infrastructure spending even as he dismisses the estimated 42,000 new jobs created by the Keystone XL, claiming they aren’t permanent. But nearly all infrastructure jobs, including pipelines, are temporary. Once the bridge or road—or pipeline—is built, construction workers move on to the next job.
The difference is that taxpayers would pay for Obama’s infrastructure projects, while the Keystone XL infrastructure project wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. In fact, the mostly union workers building it would pay income taxes.
Finally, Obama wants to expand trade. Well, Canada is our number one trading partner, and the Canadian prime minister has made it very clear to the president that the Keystone XL is important to his country.
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