State Department to receive over 1 million comments in support of Keystone XL

As the public comment period for Keystone XL comes to a close, the consensus couldn’t be clearer: from Democrats to Republicans, from business groups to labor groups, from former Obama administration officials to news outlets across the country, an overwhelming majority wants President Obama to say yes to Keystone XL – and now.

Today the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced that it will deliver more than 500,000 comments to the State Department in support of the pipeline.  As API’s Cindy Schild explained,

“The needlessly long review of the Keystone XL pipeline continues to deprive thousands of Americans of good-paying jobs and the nation of a vital piece of energy infrastructure.  At year six, and counting, of the administration’s review, support among policymakers and the public continue to grow. To make sure the president hears the American people, we will deliver more than 500,000 comments to the State Department urging the president to approve the pipeline.”

Adding to that number, the Consumer Energy Alliance announced today that it has gathered an additional 500,000 comments from all 50 states.

Those over one million Americans are in good company.  Just this week, long-time Obama supporter Warren Buffet and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz under President Reagan both endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline.  Buffet said that Keystone XL is a “good idea for the country.”  Shultz focused on the energy security benefits saying that Keystone XL would allow us to reduce reliance on less stable nations: “That’s oil that doesn’t go through the straits of Hormuz,” he said.

The Denver Post, Colorado’s largest newspaper, also lent its voice to the debate in an editorial urging the president to “end the melodrama” and build Keystone XL.  From the editorial:

“And yet the federal decision on whether to approve the pipeline isn’t supposed to be about politics. It’s supposed to be based on the relevant facts, which in recent months have tilted heavily in favor of construction. This is especially the case after a State Department report in January concluded that building the pipeline would not materially boost carbon emissions because the oil would find its way to market no matter what. […]If Keystone is not built and the oil is moved to refineries by other means, greenhouse emissions are likely to be even greater, according to the State Department assessment. Maybe environmentalists should ponder that before joining the next anti-Keystone protest.

Additionally, the Denver Post published an op-ed by University of Denver adjunct professor Floyd Ciruli who explains that “if public opinion were the guide” Keystone XL would be approved.  He continues,

“Even before its recent environmental clearance, the pipeline has enjoyed national support during the last five years that it has been under debate. Pew Research and other credible national polls show broad support at or above 60 percent, including a majority of Democrats, based on a lack of evidence of a greenhouse gas effect, the desire for energy independence, and the project’s potential to boost the economy. Most recently, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed it, along with a host of Senate Democrats vulnerable in re-election.”

At the end of the day, public opinion is what sways elections – and this is something that David Goldwyn, former special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pointed out this week.  Goldwyn said, “I think the administration will approve Keystone XL…I think it’s very hard to say no.”  His reasoning?

“It’s inconceivable to me that he’d say no in June because that would be really devastating for Landrieu. If you lose the Senate, what happens to the rest of your agenda? If you care about climate, you don’t want to lose the Senate.”

A new poll bolsters Goldwyn’s point, showing that in key election states, such as Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana and North Carolina, 46 to 52 percent of voters were less likely to support a Democratic incumbent if President Obama doesn’t approve Keystone XL.

The numerous Americans who voiced their support this week join other high profile figures such as former Obama national security advisers General Jim Jones and Thomas E. Donilon; former Obama Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar; and former Obama USGS chief Marcia McNutt.  Even EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy exposed Keystone XL opponents’ claims as false when she said that Keystone XL won’t affect EPA’s work on climate and “If there’s oil there, someone will find it and use it.”

The overwhelming majority of Americans who support Keystone XL have some of the country’s foremost environment and climate experts, geologists, and national security advisors on their side.  President Obama should listen to them.

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