Keystone XL Delay Has Consequences

August 7, 2014

For five years, the Keystone XL pipeline project has been delayed, waiting on presidential approval. The economic gains that would result from the project -- new jobs, wages and access to North American oil -- are just one part of the Keystone puzzle. As Catrina Rorke of the American Action Forum explains, construction of the pipeline would also bring environmental and human benefits.

If built, the pipeline will transport 4 percent of the oil that is consumed in the United States each day. Pipelines are the safest way to transport oil, but -- in the absence of Keystone XL approval -- companies have been moving crude oil by rail instead, a more dangerous and less environmentally friendly alternative:

  • Rail transport creates risks of oil spills, and using railroads instead of the Keystone XL pipeline could spill up to 23,318 barrels of oil.
  • Pipelines have a much lower spill rate, and the State Department estimates that Keystone XL would release just 518 barrels per year, on average.
  • Pipelines are more energy efficient than rail and use less fuel to operate.
  • Rail transport also carries with it more risks of injuries. Rail transport risks an annual 189 injuries and 28 fatalities, compared to a Keystone XL risk of just 1 injury and no deaths.

The delay in approving the pipeline has not prevented the market from getting oil where it needs to go, Rorke explains. In addition to the economic benefits lost without the pipeline, the approval delay is generating environmental and human costs.  

Source: Catrina Rorke, "The Keystone Delay is Costing us More than Jobs and Revenues," American Action Forum, August 6, 2014.

 

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