A ‘Clean’ Push for the Keystone XL

By Sabrina Fang

Over the next several days the Senate is expected to debate legislation advancing the Keystone XL pipeline. The hope is that a “clean” pro-Keystone XL bill will be sent to the president. A number amendments to the legislation may be proposed, but the best course is for a clean, bipartisan bill to reach the president’s desk.

While some of the amendments currently being talked about deal with other important issues, a number are partisan proposals with no intent beyond picking a political fight instead of advancing an infrastructure project that enjoys strong support from the American public – 65 percent in Fox News’ latest poll. Some examples:

Climate ChangeDeclaring human activity contributes to higher greenhouse gas emissions

Keystone XL isn’t about climate change. The latest State Department environmental review – like four others before it – declared that no significant environmental impact will result from the pipeline’s construction, its operation or from the oil sands development the project will help facilitate. State’s analysis found that Keystone XL will have no bearing on oil sands development and thus negligible environmental effect, climate or otherwise:

… approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.

State found that bringing oil sands to market via U.S. refineries is best for the environment compared to rail or barge and is more cost effective, which ultimately benefits consumers. Canada accounts for only 2 percent of global GHG emissions, with oil sands just 0.1 percent of global emissions, which International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol recently described as “completely peanuts.”

Distorting the MarketBanning the export of crude oil transported by Keystone XL as well as the export of refined petroleum fuel products originating from that crude

In its most recent environmental review, the State Department confirmed Keystone won’t be an oil export pipeline:

Once (oil sands) crude oil arrives at the Gulf Coast, Gulf Coast refiners have a significant competitive advantage in processing it compared to foreign refiners because the foreign refiners would have to incur additional transportation charges to have the crude oil delivered from the Gulf Coast to their location

Refined products are valuable commodities which, if exported, would bring overseas wealth into the U.S. – just like any other American-made product that is allowed to find markets abroad. This helps our balance of trade while supporting refining sector jobs – good-paying jobs that support individual families and communities. And remember, Keystone XL also will carry domestic light sweet crude from the U.S. Bakken region.

Blanket prohibitions like this clearly misunderstand the way markets work – benefiting American industries and workers. Artificial strictures only prevent the free-market system from working properly.

President Obama talks often about doubling U.S. exports. Energy exports – crude oil, liquefied natural gas and refined product – will help reach that goal, supporting thousands of U.S. jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction and the operation of export infrastructure.

Artificial Job CreationRequire that for every job created by Keystone XL, an equal or greater number of jobs is created through clean energy investments

Industry isn’t against clean-energy investment, having invested $81 billion in greenhouse gas-mitigating technologies between 2000 and 2012 – more than the federal government ($79.7 billion) and nearly as much as other U.S. private industries combined ($91 billion).

What we see here is a fairly obvious attempt to confuse the Keystone XL debate. That debate should be about advancing a privately financed, shovel-ready project that would support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. This debate shouldn’t be about manufacturing reasons for new government subsidies that would distort the marketplace using taxpayer dollars.

It’s interesting, given the dismissals by the president and others of Keystone XL’s jobs as “temporary” jobs, that some now want to try to connect artificial job creation via government subsidy to pipeline jobs.

Tangentially SpeakingIncrease funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Again, the Keystone XL debate isn’t about a government assistance program. It’s about bringing more North American energy to market, which is the best way to help keep energy costs down for all Americans. Building the Keystone XL pipeline will help do that, bringing upwards of 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries.

Bottom line: Energy policy should be about facts and science, not partisan political skirmishing. The Keystone XL pipeline is a chance for Congress and President Obama to cooperate on an issue that’s broadly supported by the American people. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The Keystone XL legislation under Senate consideration will be one of the most bipartisan bills to reach the president’s desk in years. After five positive environmental assessments through six years of exhaustive review, plus his own repeated calls for infrastructure investment, President Obama has no justification to veto the middle class jobs and energy security advances Keystone XL will deliver … All the excuses are gone. … make the decision. It’s very clear this is in the national interest, just like the (analyses of the) four dozen other pipelines that cross the U.S.-Canadian border have concluded, and we just hope the president will move on. It’s a chance to work together in a bipartisan way.”

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