Today marks six years since TransCanada first submitted its application to the U.S. State Department to construct the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline. After six years of delays, the pipeline seems more like a pipe dream than a tangible reality.
The State Department has conducted multiple environmental reviews over the years—with the most recent study being released on January 31, 2014. The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) confirmed yet again that the project is not only safe, but would have limited environmental impacts. Congress has also made attempts to pass legislation that would enable the pipeline to be built using congressional authority rather than relying on a Presidential Permit.
Just this past June, KXL champions Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) led a colloquy on the Senate floor urging their colleagues to vote for bipartisan legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Despite the outcry from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle calling for President Obama to make KXL a priority, the pipeline remains in limbo.
The latest delay stems from the State Department’s decision on April 18th to extend the national interest determination period indefinitely. Until the Nebraska Supreme Court can rule on a lower-court’s decision that rejected Governor Heineman’s authority to approve the pipeline’s reroute, the Obama Administration is continuing to play the waiting game.
After six long years, why should this country have to wait for something that would do so much good?
Expanding our nation’s critical infrastructure goes beyond building and maintaining the transportation, water supply, sewage and refuse disposal systems. Modes of transporting source energy—namely crude oil by pipeline—is yet another form of critical infrastructure that if expanded, will help further this country’s energy independence and economic growth.
The proposed 875-mile long pipeline expansion would transport an estimated 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta, Canada and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana. Rather than import crude from unstable foreign sources—which is currently the norm—KXL would enable the United States to rely on its friendly Northern neighbor and ally—Canada.
Importantly, at a time when our nation’s job market is continuing to bounce back after the 2008 recession, the Keystone XL Pipeline would be an asset to the country’s economic security. According to the FSEIS, constructing the pipeline would create “42,100 jobs which would yield approximately $2 billion in earnings throughout the United States and add $3.4 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.”
There is no doubt that the benefits to our country’s critical infrastructure , energy independence, and economic growth are being lost the longer President Obama delays his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. While the 6th anniversary of the pipeline’s application may symbolize years of indecision and frustration to some, let it not represent missed opportunities—but rather serve as a turning point to all that can be gained.
Mr. President, don’t you think six years is too long to wait? Let’s not make it seven.
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