NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why We Should Approve the Keystone Pipeline

September 17, 2013

The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn't already been approved by the Obama administration. Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, explains why the project should be approved.

The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years -- with no major leaks. The Keystone XL project that has received so much attention is the last phase of a larger project.

  • Phase one has been operating since 2010, carrying oil from Alberta across three Canadian provinces and six states to refineries in Illinois.
  • Phase two expanded the system from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla., a major U.S. oil refining and storing hub. It went operational two years ago, again with no major problems.
  • Phase three, under construction, extends the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast refineries in Texas. President Obama even gave a speech in March 2012 -- during his reelection bid -- praising the pipeline extension as good for the economy.
  • Phase four, the Keystone XL, would build another extension to the pipeline system from Alberta, crossing only three states (Montana, South Dakota then Nebraska).

Rival pipelines are expanding their existing capacity because they don't require new approvals. The oil is coming; the only question is how much new investment there will be in U.S. energy infrastructure.

  • The new pipeline will disturb less land than the pipeline that has already been built.
  • Pipeline builders have already addressed the major environmental objection.
  • The expanded pipeline doesn't move just Canadian oil; TransCanada routed the expansion to transport up to 100,000 barrels a day of U.S. crude oil.
  • Keystone XL isn't just another way to import oil to the United States, it could actually lower the U.S. trade deficit.

The fact is that the Keystone XL pipeline is simply an extension of an already existing program that is working well, creating jobs and expanding U.S. manufacturing. It should be an easy decision for anyone concerned about the economy.

Source: Merrill Matthews, "Keystone Pipeline Mysteries," USA Today, September 4, 2013.


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