One year after gaining presidential approval, the Gulf Coast Project demonstrates the economic potential of a full Keystone XL line
Economic growth and job creation are well underway in Oklahoma and Texas one year after President Obama promised to give the support of the administration for the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, known as the Gulf Coast Project. Standing on a podium in front of mounds of steel pipe on March 22, 2012, President Obama declared:
“Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.”
One year later, the success of this project is clear:
- According to TransCanada, the Gulf Coast Project, which is currently being constructed to deliver U.S. crude oil to U.S. Gulf coast refineries, is 55-60 percent complete;
- To date, workers have completed more than 1.25 million hours of the over four million hours needed to construct this US$2.3 billion project;
- That doesn’t include the millions of hours worked by those producing all the components needed to build such a large piece of energy infrastructure;
- Close to $1.2 billion worth of goods for the pipeline has been sourced from U.S. manufacturers.
Additionally, the Associated Press reported in its February 24 article:
- “[The] segment from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas Gulf Coast is halfway toward completion and could be transporting oil by the end of the year.
- “Nearly 4,000 workers in Oklahoma and Texas are aligning and welding a 485-mile section, TransCanada spokesman David Dodson told The Associated Press. ‘We’re right at peak right now,’ he said. ‘We hope to have it in operation by the end of this year.’
- “Now about 850 laborers are at work in Oklahoma, with roughly 3,000 more in Texas. […] Pipeliners Local 798, a national union based in Tulsa, Okla., has about 250 of its members working on the pipeline’s northern two-thirds, union business manager Danny Hendrix said. He estimated about half of those welders are from Oklahoma. ‘These jobs are really good-paying jobs,’ Hendrix said. ‘They provide not only a good living wage, they provide health care and they also provide pension.’
- “In the meantime, Hendrix said, pipeline workers with his union will keep an eye on Washington. ‘If the permit gets approved, we’ll start construction on the northern end of it immediately,’ he said.”
With the success of the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline clear, the president has the opportunity to get the rest of the project done. In his speech in Cushing, President Obama explained his hesitance for not moving forward with the northern section last year, stating:
“[O]ur experts said that we needed a certain amount of time to review the project. Unfortunately, Congress decided they wanted their own timeline — not the company, not the experts, but members of Congress who decided this might be a fun political issue, decided to try to intervene and make it impossible for us to make an informed decision.
“So the southern leg of it we’re making a priority, and we’re going to go ahead and get that done. The northern portion of it we’re going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and safety of the American people are protected.”
One year later, these issues have now been resolved:
- In January, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) released its final report, finding that the Keystone XL pipeline “would have minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska” and instead would generate significant economic benefits, create jobs and adopt safety measures that ensure the safety and integrity of the line.
- Earlier this month, the State Department issued an updated “draft” supplemental of the State Department’s “final” report on the environmental profile and impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, finding that the project would have “limited adverse environmental impacts.”
Just how quickly can the northern leg project get underway? As the Pipeliners’ Danny Hendrix told the Associated Press, “We’ll start construction on the northern end of it immediately.’” In fact, the northern half of Keystone XL is expected to create another 9,000 construction and support jobs in addition to those jobs already created for the southern leg. But first things first: support the president in his decision to approve the full Keystone XL.