Build the Keystone pipeline

Blog, Climate, Paul Driessen

President Obama wants to put America back to work, produce more energy, improve public safety, and open new markets.  In his State of the Union address he said “I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible.”

Most Americans are not fooled by empty rhetoric. In December only 74,000 jobs were created (many of them low-paying positions), while 374,000 people gave up looking for work. Recent polls indicate that three-quarters of Americans say the country is in recession, two-thirds don’t trust the President, and barely 30% say the nation is “heading in the right direction.”

The President needs to free our energy, economy, and entrepreneurial instincts. But many projects have been sacrificed to environmentalist pressure groups.

Canada has vast energy, mineral, forest, and other resources, waiting to be tapped. But these resources are locked up by utopian environmentalists and politicians

Our hydrocarbon wealth especially offers benefits: improved human safety, health, welfare, and living standards with new jobs, wealth, and income. Not tapping these resources is contrary to Obama’s promises and our own national interest.

Of all the opportunities the 1,179-mile Alberta to Texas Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) awaits a presidential phone call or signature, to slash bureaucratic red tape, streamline the permitting process, and create construction and manufacturing jobs. Some 40,000 jobs – more than half as many as created last December.

There are good reasons for the President to end this interminable six-year KXL review debacle.

KXL would create an estimated 20,000 construction jobs, 10,000 jobs in factories that make steel, pipelines, valves, cement, and thousands  in hotel, restaurant, and other service  industries With Mr. Obama waging war on communities and states that mine and use coal, these jobs are even more important to blue-collar workers in Middle America.

States along the pipeline route would receive $5 billion in new property tax revenues, and still more in workers’ income tax payments.

Right now most of the oil from Canada’s oil sands and North Dakota’s Bakken shale deposits moves by railroad and truck, often through populated areas. We already know what happened at Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Corporations are working to improve tanker designs and reroute traffic. But despite occasional accidents, pipelines have a much better safety record. KXL would be built with state-of-the-art pipe and components to the latest specifications. Moreover, the pipeline has been routed to avoid population centers, sensitive wildlife areas and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Building Keystone will ensure that vast petroleum resources can be efficiently developed.  It will reduce the need to flare (burn and waste) natural gas that is a byproduct of oil production in the Bakken shale country. The endless dithering over KXL has frayed relations between Canada and the United States. It has compelled Canada to build new pipelines from the Alberta oil sands fields to Superior, Wisconsin and to Canada’s west coast.  Further delays will not reduce oil sands development – only the destination of the oil.

In a recent speech, President Obama said that “climate change is a fact.” Well, it has been a fact since the Earth was formed. The only pertinent issues are these: Are humans causing imminent, unprecedented climate change? And can we control Earth’s climate, by drastically curtailing hydrocarbon use, slashing living standards, and switching to renewable resources?

Oil sands production would add a minuscule 0.06% to US greenhouse gas emissions, a tiny fraction to global carbon dioxide emissions, and an undetectable 0.00002 degrees F per year to global warming.

A January 24 letter by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and signed by 45 Republican Senators, requests that President Obama permit KXL pipeline construction “as soon as possible.” Several Democrats said that they support his effort and Keystone, but are nervous about challenging the President or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

On January 31, the State Department reaffirmed that KXL is unlikely to noticeably increase demand for Canadian oil sands emissions of carbon dioxide. With reelection behind him, the President doesn’t need to kowtow to his radical green base. By picking up his pen and phone, and approving the pipeline, he could satisfy independents and his union base. He’d even reduce CO2 emissions, which State says would be 28-42% higher if Canada’s oil is shipped via train or truck.

Democrats should be lobbying the President to do what’s right for America: create the jobs he promised by approving Keystone.  

Both Canada and America are waiting.