Why Should the Obama Administration Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline?
By John Miller
The Keystone XL Project has been a political hot potato for the Obama Administration. Approving the project will benefit the economy and energy security, but risks not addressing carbon emission issues. Blocking the project passes up on an opportunity help the chronically slow U.S. economic recovery and ignores energy security concerns, but could possibly help mitigate climate change. The question becomes, which decision has the greatest benefits compared to the costs and will most benefit the U.S. overall?
Brief Keystone XL Pipeline History – The original Keystone ‘phase-one’ pipeline project was approved by the U.S. in 2008, constructed and started up in 2010. This first Keystone pipeline helped eliminate a past Canada-U.S. logistic constrain and allowed increasing Canadian syncrude deliveries up to 590 thousand barrels per day (KBD) into the U.S. Midwest. In 2008 a second-phase or extended-branch pipeline project, the ‘Keystone XL’, was proposed to expand the total pipeline system capacity up to 1,100 KBD. The Keystone XL was blocked by the Obama Administration largely due to environmental concerns for the Ogallala Aquifer region. The pipeline owners developed a plan to bypass the sensitive aquifer regions and addressed other potential environmental issues. This modified pipeline plan received final state approval from Nebraska in January 2013.
Following Nebraska’s approval, the Obama Administration has apparently decided to delay any Keystone XL action until the second quarter 2013.
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