The Facts About the Keystone XL

Mark Green (Cross Posted From Energy Tomorrow)

With legislation to advance the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline moving ahead in the Senate, potentially attracting a misguided veto from President Obama, some important numbers:

76 – The number of months Keystone XL has been blocked by the Obama administration. Historically, approvals for cross-border pipeline projects take 18 to 24 months. Keystone XL’s history is something quite different – the story of how a shovel-ready infrastructure project was needlessly hijacked by politics.

830,000 – The number of barrels of North American oil per day that would flow through Keystone XL to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, the vast majority of which would be turned into valuable fuel products.

42,100 – The number of U.S. jobs that would be supported during Keystone XL’s construction. That’s not industry’s number. That’s the number coming from President Obama’s own State Department. When he and others dismiss the project’s jobs impact, it reveals a serious lack of understanding of the way large infrastructure construction creates a positive ripple across the economy in terms of direct jobs, indirect jobs and induced jobs – all of which the White House fully appreciated when it was making the case for its federal stimulus package in 2009.

5 – The number of Keystone XL environmental reviews conducted by President Obama’s own Department of State.

5 – The number of State Department environmental reviews that have concluded Keystone XL would have no significant climate impact.

2 – The number of Pinocchios just awarded by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker to claims that Keystone XL will negatively impact the environment and that it would only be only a conduit for oil to be shipped overseas. (This follows the Three Pinocchios given to President Obama last fall for saying oil transported by Keystone XL would go “everywhere else” but the U.S. Bottom line, that’s a lot of Pinocchios.)

First, the environment. In his most recent analysis, Fact Checker Glenn Kessler writes:

(Keystone XL opponents) ignore the bottom line conclusion of the State Department analysis – the environmental impact would be minimal because “the proposed project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas.”

Now Kessler on the oil-for-export claim, most recently lodged by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland:

We’ve previously fact checked President Obama’s claim that the pipeline was designed to take Canadian crude oil to the world markets.  The president earned Three Pinocchios for suggesting that all of the Canadian crude would be exported. First of all, most of the oil would almost certainly stop on the Gulf Coast to be refined into products. On top of that, current trends suggest that only about half of that refined product would be exported. Cardin falls into the same trap, claiming that it “makes no sense” to have the oil traverse the United States if it is for “the international community.”

Kessler continues:

But the fact remains the reason for the pipeline is because it is taking the crude oil to the refiners on the Gulf Coast, where it would be refined into products such as motor gasoline and diesel fuel. The State Department report disputed claims that the oil “would pass through the United States and be loaded onto vessels for ultimate sale in markets such as Asia,” saying it was not economically justified. The State Department noted that the traditional sources of crude for the Gulf Coast, such as Mexico and Venezuela, are declining, and so refineries would have “significant incentive to obtain heavy crude from the oil sands.”… (I)t is misleading to suggest that Keystone would only be a conveyor belt for crude that would be shipped around the world.

The Keystone XL debate goes on. Unfortunately, the White House turned it into a political debate, with the claims against a worthwhile, privately financed project gaining a sort of lighter-than-air quality – untethered to fact and reasonable analysis. These populate an alternative universe where it’s acceptable to obstruct U.S. job creation and economic stimulus, and it’s open season on the United States’ energy partnership with Canada, our No. 1 source of imported oil. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The decision on the part of the president is one fundamental decision: Is this in the national interest? We believe it clearly is, along with the many other pipelines that already cross the U.S.-Canadian border. This is in the national interest, to allow the free flow of goods and services – in this case energy – across the Canadian-U.S. border into the United States, to be refined by American workers, American workers to build the pipeline, to continue to maintain the pipeline. This is good for our economy.”

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