Keystone XL pipeline deserves a second look

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These facts haven’t gone unnoticed in the public domain. Mere moments after President Obama was reelected, policymakers and pundits alike named KXL as one of the first decisions the next president would be pushed to address. In considering a President Romney, the outcome was clear – he vowed to approve KXL on day one. But despite running a campaign built on an “all of the above” energy platform, there are still uncertainties around how an Obama administration will move forward with the project.
 
Are the job numbers too few? If the Canadian Energy Research Institute has anything to say about it, the job numbers could be even more significant than what would be created during construction. Considering the pipeline will begin in the oil sands of Alberta, development of the oil sands that is linked to KXL could support 117,000 new U.S. jobs by 2035.
 
Are party politics at play? Over the years, KXL has proven to be a bipartisan issue, as was recently demonstrated in the results of the 2012 election. Two states along the northern route of KXL, Montana and North Dakota, historically known to be Republican strongholds, elected Democratic senators who have been staunch supporters of the project.
 
Do we not need another pipeline? The President himself stood in front of miles of unlaid pipe in Cushing, Okla., this past March and declared that “we’re actually producing so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go.” A completed Keystone XL will indeed help transport more energy resources from our largest trading partner in Canada to American refineries.


But what many forget is that KXL is as much a connector to Canadian resources as it is to various American oil fields – transporting as much as 65,000 barrels of oil per day from the U.S. Bakken shale alone. 
 
Is it the controversy over oil sands? Oil sands crudes have been found to be no more corrosive than any other crude oil that has been transported through American pipelines for decades. Even the U.S. State Department, which has jurisdiction over approval for international infrastructure projects like pipelines, found that KXL would “have a degree of safety over any other” pipeline, and would produce only “limited adverse environmental impacts.”
 
After numerous public hearings, seven congressional votes, and 57 safety measures agreed to by TransCanada, what is the Obama administration waiting for? Public polling throughout 2012 suggests that the majority of Americans are in favor of Keystone XL. Even in Nebraska, a state that has twice encouraged TransCanada to change the pipeline’s route through the state, supports the project by a margin of more than two-to-one.
 
The Keystone XL pipeline is more than just a political talking point; it fills a critical infrastructure void as our nation moves toward becoming the largest oil producer in the world, creates much needed jobs, and meets – and exceeds – both Canadian and American regulatory standards for pipeline safety.
Whether it’s a Secretary Clinton or another appointee who evaluates the final State Department environmental review of the project in the new year, the facts support the decision to find Keystone XL in our nation’s interest. We can’t afford “four more years.”
 
Schild is a senior manager of Downstream at the American Petroleum Institute and the executive director of Oil Sands Fact Check.