What to do about the Keystone XL Pipeline

by: Lea Palmer
Freshman, Pre-Business and Public Policy
Huntersville, NC

The Keystone Pipeline has been a topic of major controversy in the United States for several years. Many environmentalists and Green Party members are saying that this pipeline will drive our planet closer to environmental turmoil, while economists and numerous government officials are arguing that the state of our economy could be jeopardized if it isn’t built.  There is no questioning the inevitable environmental damage the pipeline will bring, as most things nowadays have some side effects; however the search for providing new jobs and cheaper fuel is pushing Republicans and Democrats towards approving the pipeline.

The Keystone Pipeline is a proposed 1,179-mile, 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline that will begin in Hardisty, Alberta and extend to Steele City, Nebraska to be constructed by TransCanada.  This pipeline will have the ability to transport over 830,000 barrels of oil per day and will cost an upwards of about $5.3 billion dollars.  Many argue that this pipeline will give the United States more energy security since we use on average 20 million barrels of oil per day, 60 percent of which is imported.  As well as increasing the amount of oil imported from Canada, “the Keystone pipeline,” according to TransCanada, “will also support the significant growth of crude oil in the United States from producers in the Bakken region of Montana and South Dakota.”   TransCanada is also promising over 20,000 job opportunities needed for the creation of this project.

Stress over the impact on global climate change as reports from scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies declare that our planets temperature is increasing rapidly at a rate of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per year.  However, Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing forward bills to not only approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but to do so without President Obama’s signature if he does not consent within 60 days.  Republican Representative Lee Terry from Nebraska introduced a bipartisan bill on March 15 to approve the TransCanada project that has been up in the air for the past four years.  The bill has about 50 of the 60 needed votes for passage in the 100 seat chamber and should be clearly voted on by the end of May.

The Keystone XL Pipeline will be the first major test for President Obama in his second term, who will have to make a finalized decision about the project by August if legislators don’t force it sooner.  On one hand people are looking for leadership, a strengthening economy, and for Obama to keep his promises of finding new jobs for American citizens.  On the other hand, environmental advocates who believe that this type of oil production has the ability to greatly accelerate global warming, are holding on to his promises to curb climate change.

Earlier this month Obama proposed a $2 billion tax increase to fund a 10-year research program on new fuel-efficient cars and other forms of sustainable energy, however, these other forms of sustainable energy sources (wind energy, solar energy, etc.) only make up about 5 percent of our countries energy needs and there is little evidence that they will be able to provide much more than that anywhere in the near future.  Furthermore, the nation isn’t looking for more taxes; it’s looking for more jobs, more fuel, and a better economy.  Although many people argue that this pipeline will only produce jobs in “per year” terms, these jobs will give people the ability to work for however long the company employs them, in a way giving people faith that there is work out there.  Fuel prices, according to many officials should be reduced, and as more jobs are provided, energy security is strengthened; it is inevitable for the United States economy to improve.  As for environmental concerns, spokesman John Earnest has even commented on the fact that thousands of miles of pipelines have been built during Obama’s presidency and none of them are showing any signs of having a significant impact on climate change.

Although these proposals may seem a little short-term, we are looking at the first program that has the ability to bring thousands of jobs to people around the country.  President Obama has a lot to take into consideration while he makes his final decision on the Keystone Pipeline, but one things for sure as he continues to read over the information about this project, he needs to keep in mind his promises to the American people of finding new jobs and ways to strengthen our economy, whether it be this pipeline or another project.


This article’s picture can be found at: http://www.nrcc.org/2013/04/11/liberals-plead-case-to-block-keystone-pipeline/.