Building Keystone pipeline will cement US-Canada relations

Canada and the United States are each other’s most important trading partners, sharing a 5,500-mile border and close ties in culture, language and values. We are vital allies and friends.

In 2010, our bilateral trade was close to $645 billion, which means more than $1.7 billion worth of goods and services cross the Canada-U.S. border every single day. Canada is the United States’s largest supplier of crude oil and refined products, natural gas, electricity and uranium. It is especially important to the U.S. that Canada has always been a reliable and secure energy supplier.

Today the Keystone XL oil pipeline offers a unique and promising opportunity for our two countries to deepen our partnership. The pipeline would carry heavy crude oil from oil sands formations in Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Last year, a bill I sponsored, the Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security (Pioneers) Act, passed the House of Representatives. It would have required the president to greenlight the extension of the pipeline into the U.S. 

Just last week, the U.S. State Department released an environmental impact study finding that big-picture environmental concerns, such as those related to greenhouse gases and global warming, are irrelevant on grounds that Canada’s oil sands will eventually be developed and made into burnable fuel —not to mention the fact that transporting the oil sands by truck, rail or ship leaves a larger carbon footprint than a pipeline route.

A few weeks before that, the governor of Nebraska gave his approval to a revised route for the pipeline that would avoid sensitive lands and aquifers in his state. Within days of his approval, a majority of the U.S. Senate sent a letter to President Obama urging speedy federal approval. “There’s no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project,” the senators said.

Speaker John Boehner summed up the situation when he said, “There is no bureaucratic excuse, hurdle, or catch President Obama can use to delay this project any further. He and he alone stands in the way of tens of thousands of new jobs and energy security.” 

Americans, through a majority of their elected representatives in both the House and the Senate, along with key governors, want this pipeline built. In siding with a relatively small number of radical environmentalists, Obama is alone and out of step with the rest of the country and with Canada. 

Keystone XL is the most studied cross-border pipeline ever proposed. It will create thousands of high-paying jobs in both of our countries. 

A study last year by the independent Congressional Research Service found that the greenhouse gas emissions from energy produced from Canadian oil sands delivered by the pipeline would have virtually no impact on the rate of global warming. It would increase it by an infinitesimal 0.00001 degrees Celsius per year. 

We who support the Keystone XL pipeline believe the expansion of oil sands will happen anyway, with or without the pipeline. Canadians are not foolish. You are not going to simply lock up a valuable resource and throw away the key. If the oil is not used in the U.S., it will be used in places like China. 

Canada is a valued ally and partner not only in energy security but national security as well. My congressional district in Colorado is home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) — a joint mission between our countries to provide strategic defense to North America. 

A majority of the American people and American politicians want to build on that strong relationship and our mutual interests by extending the Keystone XL pipeline into America. The president is the only one who hasn’t gotten the memo. 

Lamborn is chairman of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.