We Can’t Afford President’s Indecision on Keystone Pipeline
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U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey HutchisonDecember 12, 2011 | 3,521 views | 1 comment
At the end of a three year comprehensive government review process, the President has an opportunity to allow construction to begin immediately on a crucial energy infrastructure project, the Keystone XL Pipeline. Instead, the President has decided to fumble away this huge economic development opportunity by postponing his decision until at least 2013. Our country can’t afford the President’s indecision; it’s time for Congress to scoop up the ball and help ensure that this project is carried across the goal line.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is a $7 billion privately-funded pipeline that will carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily from a huge find in western Canada to American refineries in Texas and elsewhere. The pipeline will create 20,000 construction jobs and approximately 118,000 related jobs, resulting in more than $20 billion in additional private sector spending and as much as $5 billion in new local, state, and federal tax revenues.
In Texas, the pipeline would boost our state economy by an estimated $1.9 billion. For Texas’ 26 oil refineries -- which account for one-fourth of total U.S. oil refining capacity -- the pipeline would result in 700,000 additional barrels of oil refined per day.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is literally shovel-ready. It has been reviewed thoroughly by a host of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Once completed, it would lock in access to a stable, secure source of energy from Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north. If the project continues to be blocked by the White House, Canada will simply export crude to China and elsewhere, and the U.S. will remain dependent on -- and vulnerable to -- unfriendly and/or unstable countries.
The President seems to be hesitating because, in spite of detailed state and federal reviews, some environmental groups are unalterably opposed. In fact, the Keystone XL project is nothing new. Currently more than 50,000 miles of oil pipelines crisscross America. Its final design incorporates dozens of small and large changes to protect the environment and potentially affected people and communities. Furthermore, if the pipeline is not built, Canada will export its crude across the Pacific on oil-consuming tankers, probably to nations with looser environmental rules than ours.
Blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline will not keep the oil in the ground, nor will it decrease America’s consumption of fossil fuels. What it will do is guarantee continuing unemployment for tens of thousands of American construction, manufacturing, transportation, and refinery workers. It will also keep America vulnerable to oil supply interruption and high prices from unstable, foreign oil-producing nations.
Since the President can’t make the decision to go ahead with this project, I and 39 other Senators have introduced the North American Energy Security Act. Our legislation requires the Secretary of State to finalize a decision on the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline project within 60 days of passage.
It’s late in the fourth quarter for millions of unemployed American workers and their families. The Keystone XL Pipeline -- privately funded and environmentally sound -- is on the one-yard line. With a national unemployment rate that continues to hover near 9 percent, we simply can’t afford to fumble away so many good-paying new jobs.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas