Keystone XL: Key to Energy Security

Are American consumers to face rising gas prices because of possible US military action in Syria? Many in the media have started to look into that question, and their answers might surprise you. Media reports from Fox News to the New York Times say that increased North American energy production is helping reduce the likelihood of price shocks due to disruptions in the Middle East.

In fact, for the first time in 50 years the United States finds itself in a position of greater stability when it comes to possible disruptions in the global oil market. As Fox Business reported, U.S. reliance on oil from unstable regions of the world is dropping rapidly, thanks to our shale boom and to the fact that we are importing so much more oil from our neighbor and ally, Canada.  From the article:

[U]nlike Europe, the U.S. is not nearly as reliant on Middle Eastern oil as a few decades ago. While the U.S. imports about 1.1 million barrels of oil a day of Saudi crude and another 750,000 bpd from Iraq and Kuwait, those numbers are dwarfed by the 10 million bpd from domestic production and our friends in Canada.

The New York Times, too, recently reported on the benefits we are seeing from increased North American energy production, including oil sands:

Most important, the country is better prepared for any shocks if the instability in the Middle East and North Africa escalates much further. United States gasoline inventories are up nearly 10 percent from a year ago, while demand is up by only about 1 percent. Mostly because of a frenzy of shale drilling and expansion of oil sands production, the United States and Canada are producing two million barrels of oil a day more than when the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa broke out two years ago. That, along with the decline in consumption since 2007, has meant that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and other inventories now have the capacity to replace about nine months of imports, about 40 percent more than only five years ago.

Of course, that figure jumps even higher if Keystone XL is approved.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report earlier this year which found North America will provide 40 percent of new energy supplies by 2018 through the development of oil sands, while contributions from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will drop to 30 percent. It’s no wonder that IEA said North American oil production is sending “shock waves” through the global markets which could lead to North American energy security in a matter of years.  And Keystone XL would be a safe and efficient choice for transporting these immense resources, helping us get another step closer to North American energy security.

One person who can help make this a reality is someone who has long made energy security a top priority: Secretary of State John Kerry.  In 2004 when then-Senator Kerry was running his presidential campaign, he often emphasized the importance of reducing our oil imports saying, “America will be safer and freer when the resources that fuel our economy are in our hands…”  In a 2010 oped he reiterated this stance, highlighting the financial burden of continuing to import oil:

[I]t costs our government somewhere between $50 billion and $132.7 billion each year to maintain and protect the global infrastructure that delivers foreign oil to our shores. This doesn’t even take into account the potentially devastating costs of sending more than $500 billion a year from the U.S. economy to often unfriendly nations overseas. And don’t forget that every time oil prices go up $1, another $1.5 billion goes straight to Iran.

Kerry is right. It makes no sense to send billions to unstable nations when we have the key to energy security at home and next door. In fact, for every dollar an American spends on Canadian goods and services, nearly 90 cents is returned to the American economy. We just don’t get that return on the dollar from other trading partners.

An overwhelming number of Americans agree. Remember, a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that 85 percent of Americans say that Keystone XL would strengthen America’s economic security, while 81 percent say it will strengthen our energy security.  Could it be any more obvious that Keystone XL is in our national interest?

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