By Thomas J. Gibson, President and CEO, The American Iron And Steel Institute
By definition, a “keystone” is something which other things depend on for support. Americans, including the domestic steel industry, are depending on the Keystone XL pipeline to deliver energy and create jobs. As an energy intensive industry, we know that affordable and reliable sources of energy are critical, and our industry creates the products necessary to make our nation’s energy infrastructure. The American Iron and Steel Industry (AISI) and our member companies have been steadfast in our support for the Keystone XL pipeline. It will have substantial energy and economic benefits, with limited environmental impact, and has been through six years of assessments. And it is clear that the pipeline has overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and the American public.
Steel products play a critical role in the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as other key energy projects. Steel pipe and tube products form the essential infrastructure for producing oil and gas natural resources, transmitting them to processers, then eventually getting them to final customers. Pipelines have long been recognized as one of the safest, most reliable and well- regulated ways to move crude oil and petroleum products.
The delay of this pipeline could have significant and long-range national security implications for our nation. If we do not secure the energy we need, which includes oil, we become vulnerable to external contingencies in an uncertain world. If the pipeline isn’t built, Canada will sell their crude oil to China and other Asian markets, where demand is high. By delaying approval of the pipeline, the Obama Administration is in effect providing China with an opportunity to out-compete the U.S. and gain access to Canada’s rich oil supply.
To the domestic steel industry, the case is clear. This pipeline is an opportunity for President Obama to show leadership and commitment to our nation’s energy independence and job creation. If the administration is serious about creating jobs, here is an easy way to do it. The president can end the stalemate by signing the bipartisan legislation to finish constructing and begin operating the full Keystone XL pipeline. Anything less puts the future of our country’s energy development in jeopardy.
Thomas J. Gibson is president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). AISI member companies represent more than three-quarters of the steel produced in North America.