It is an economic and industrial godsend, proponents say about the proposed, and highly controversial, Keystone XL pipeline. Critics, meanwhile, say it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Whom should you believe? Most Americans say the former, a recent survey suggests – and that may be enough to get the long-awaited project approved.
The debate has gone on for years, much to the distress of politicians, environmentalists, and industrials.
Is the much talked about, heavily scrutinized Keystone XL Pipeline – which, if constructed, would transport heavy crude oil from both Canada’s oil sands region and domestic production to refineries along the US Gulf Coast – good or bad for America?
Naysayers say bad, suggesting that the project is beleaguered with a number of substantial environmental concerns and political conflicts of interest. For these reasons, opponents say, the public considers the project is a no-go.
However, the American Petroleum Institute recently found out that Americans actually think the opposite, thanks to a survey done by Harris Interactive on their behalf.
In fact, American voters of all political persuasions “overwhelmingly” support building the pipeline, says API Senior Manager Cindy Schild, citing the report. How many, precisely? Well, of the 1,000 registered voters nationwide who were contacted via telephone for the aforementioned poll, over two-thirds approve of the project, she says.
That is quite a different picture from what the critics painted.
Likewise, Schild adds, about 77 percent have the same opinion that the pipeline, as a whole, would strengthen the country’s national security while 81 percent agree that the pipeline would fortify the nation’s energy security.
A similar percentage, 85 percent, agrees that the project, during construction and after completion, would strengthen the country’s economic security, Schild says. Approximately 75 percent believe the pipeline would benefit the US military.
From every perspective, Schild says, the Keystone XL pipeline just makes sense.
“The science supports this project. A bi-partisan Congressional majority supports it. Organized labor anxiously awaits its approval. And, above all, the American people support it – people of all political points of view, politicians from both parties, and national opinion leaders,” she says. “We’ve witnessed firsthand the public’s strong support in the rallies we’ve held and in poll after poll that’s been conducted.”
This leads us to another significant finding buried deep within the survey’s conclusions, something of a rare commodity this day and age: The majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents see eye to eye on the project. Building the pipeline is the way to go, they say, according to the report.
About eight in 10 registered Independents and Democrats approve of the project, saying that it is indeed in our country’s best interests. Schild says close to 70 percent of voters from both major political parties believe the pipeline would toughen America’s national security and greatly profit its military forces.
Individually, 83 percent of Republican voters support constructing the longed for project, followed by 69 percent of Independents and 63 percent of Democrats, the API explains.
“The State Department has conducted four assessments over the course of almost five years to answer one simple question: Does Keystone XL adversely impact the environment?” Schild explains in a press conference call with reporters from a variety of news outlets, this one included.
“Each time, the State Department concludes that there are no significant impacts on the environment,” she says. “The environmental review is complete.”
She adds, confidently, “As we await the hopefully final-final EIS (environmental impact statement), now it’s time to consider the reasons why building this pipeline serves our nation’s economic and security interests.”
BENEFITS OF THE PROJECT
The pipeline, no questions asked, would enhance national security throughout the US, supporters attest, Schild included. She adds, in plain words, that the project would be a great means to move domestic and Canadian oil supplies securely to American refineries for US consumers.
“We are expected to continue to consume large amounts of oil and natural gas in the decades ahead even with growing production of renewables,” she says. “The International Energy Agency has noted the rising dominance of North American oil production and its game changing impacts on world energy markets and energy geopolitics, including a diminishing OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) influence.”
According to the Energy Information Administration and Wood Mackenzie, a research consultancy, North American production can meet 100 percent of the United States’ liquid fuels supply in the next dozen years.
“Oil from Canada is part of this,” Schild says, “and Keystone XL would help bring more domestic and Canadian oil to American markets, with US refiners adding value, turning it into gasoline, diesel, and other products.”
The pipeline would also bring in thousands of much-needed new jobs, many of which would come immediately, during construction, and far more long after production ends. Oil sands development linked to the pipeline, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, could support more than 100,000 jobs by 2035.
“Many of the jobs would be in the construction industry, a segment of our economy suffering from unemployment rates higher than national average,” Schild says. “The State Department has found the pipeline would ‘make a significant contribution’ to the US’s continuing economic recovery.”
Advocates of the controversial pipeline maintain that its construction would better expand trade with the nation’s “No. 1 trading partner,” likely generating economic benefits far beyond what Americans can expect from other oil-producing nations.
“Nearly 90 cents of every dollar we spend in Canada are turned around and spent by Canadians here in the US,” Schild makes clear. “Trade with Venezuela, for instance, returns an average of just 27 cents to our economy for each dollar we spend and provides a much less reliable supply of energy than Canada.”
With so many clear-cut benefits, and with much of the supposed environmental concerns effectively counteracted with scientific data, why have federal authorities been hesitant to pull the trigger on the proposed development?
End the wait and listen to your audience, Schild says.
“No pipeline project in history has been analyzed as long and as thoroughly as the Keystone XL pipeline,” she says. “It has been under review for more than twice as long as it will take to build. The delay has gone on for too long. The President needs to stand up and lead on this issue.”
She concludes, “We urge the administration to be guided by the facts, respect its own analysis, heed what Americans are saying, and approve the Keystone XL pipeline with no further delay.”
Sadly, more delays would not be a surprise, either.