The Battle of Keystone XL Continues

As gas prices continue to rise to over five dollars a gallon, this administration appears to be doing nothing.  Actually, what they are doing is pandering to a group of the president's Democratic supporters by rejecting the Keystone Pipeline XL.  American Thinker interviewed some experts to get their opinions about this issue.

The TransCanada Keystone XL project is a companion to the existing Keystone pipeline.  TransCanada hoped to build the full 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.  The proposed $7-billion pipeline would run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

The pipeline now has to be built in two segments because President Obama rejected the permits.  While an international permit is needed for the northern segment because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border, TransCanada needs mostly state and local authorizations to build the southern segment.  With strong support in states along that section of the corridor, TransCanada officials said, they expect to have the southern segment operating by late 2013 at a cost of $2.3 billion.

Since energy independence must be America's number-one priority, the pipeline permits should have been a no-brainer.  Yet the president, in campaign mode, has sided with the radical environmentalists who want to stop Canadian oil drilling and tar sand extraction programs.  Shaun Howard, the official spokesman for TransCanada, rejected these claims: "When the Department of State issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement in August 2011, it confirmed that there would be no material impact on environmental resources along the route.  This pipeline is being built from the strongest steel, is using even more safety procedures and protocols, and is monitored around the clock by more than 21,000 sensors that feed real-time information to our Oil Control Center.  Even federal regulators in the U.S. [PHMSA] have confirmed that with all that we have agreed to do, these lines will operate to a degree of safety that is far higher than any other pipeline currently in operation."

Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) agrees and noted that pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil.  "Many Americans are unaware that there are many pipelines that crisscross the U.S. because there is very seldom an accident."

Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) cannot understand the president's objections since previously, in his State of the Union Address, he talked about "trying to expand our domestic energy and when push comes to shove he just flakes out, backs off, and changes his mind."  This is incomprehensible since the Canadians are going to build the pipeline whether the environmentalists like it or not.  They will go through either Canada or the United States.  Congressman Poe believes that "they will sell it to China and build the pipeline through the Canadian West Coast if they do not get the permits.  Our worldwide competitors for energy will be getting that crude oil."

According to Howard, the benefits to Americans will include having only private funding and "reducing the supply of oil from nations that are hostile to U.S. interests that will enable Americans to have a safe, stable, and secure supply of oil.  Energy security, jobs, safety, and economic benefits are all great reasons to support this project."  Congressman Poe thinks this will create an economic boom for both union and non-union jobs.  An important consideration for him is that the project's status as a private endeavor means that no taxpayer money is involved.

Both Poe and Howard think that about 20,000 jobs will be created: 13,000 construction jobs, 7,000 manufacturing, and fifty American companies contracted.  Poe thinks that about 95% of the oil will be supplied to America since it "will all be refined in the U.S., and it is cheaper to use it here than ship it halfway around the world."  Because of all these benefits, the congressman introduced a bill, with Democratic Congressman Dan Boren (OK), in January that would allow "Congress to directly and immediately approve the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline," as Congress had done in 1973 with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act.  Just last week President Obama called Democrats to make sure they blocked the Senate Republican amendment to a highway-funding bill that would have given the permits to TransCanada.

However, there are those who do not see the benefits and are opposed to the pipeline. Besides the environmentalists, some property owners are unhappy with the appropriation of their land under eminent domain.  They compare their opposition to that of the property owners who lost their land to the railroad companies during the 1880s.  Julia Trigg Crawford of Texas feels that her property rights have been stomped upon because she never received assurances that there will not be trash buried on her land and that her creek will be protected.  TransCanada responded to American Thinker: "The Pipeline is buried underground, but the owner of the property maintains ownership and economic rights to the surface.  As a company, we work very hard to sign voluntary agreements with landowners[.] ... [Regarding Ms. Crawford's allegations,] at this point we have done everything we can[.] ... TransCanada takes great care and planning to minimize and avoid impacts to the environment whether we are building or operating our pipeline systems[.] ... We will incorporate proven design features and construction methods, as well as a state of the art integrity management program to protect any water crossing."

Everyone interviewed agrees that protecting people's property rights is important but regards the building of the pipeline as a national security issue.  If the pipeline is not built, America's energy and economic security is at risk.  Congressman Rooney summarized it best: "this was an opportunity where Congress and the president could have worked together and shown we are serious about jobs, lowering gas prices, and becoming energy-independent.  If these issues are so political, then this country is in serious trouble.  The president's attitude does not make any sense.  We have to stop being reliant on our enemies for oil." 

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