Keystone Pipeline Needs to be Built for America
The environmentalist activist community has a new Public Enemy No. 1: Keystone XL. That’s the proposed 1,200-mile pipeline linking Canadian oil fields to Texas refineries. The project is up for debate at the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology this week – the latest in what is now a four-year-long national debate on the project. The facts have become nearly smothered by the small but vocal opposition, but the fact is the Keystone XL pipeline offers a safe, efficient and affordable means of transporting the resources our nation needs.
Block the Keystone XL pipeline and Americans are going to see a nation that is less energy-secure, an economic recovery further stymied and prospects for growth jeopardized. Perhaps most important for the activists who oppose it – a vastly increased chance for spills and other environmental incidents.
While the debate that surrounds the Keystone XL pipeline has been continuous for years, opponents to the transcontinental energy initiative coalesced early on in the process.
Unburdened by facts and uninterested in offering arguments to support their positions, opponents to Keystone XL have been willing to lob unsupported claim after unsubstantiated attack over and over again.
Lost in all of this rhetorical wind? The most salient fact: If Keystone XL is blocked, America’s demand for oil will remain undiminished, and so, too, will the appetite to develop the Canadian oil resources that opponents of the pipeline deride.
Canadian crude is America’s largest source of imported oil. The Keystone XL pipeline will only strengthen the relationship we have with our close, dependable ally and neighbor. It will also allow us to replace the 5 million barrels of oil a day – as opposed to relying on resources that we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela. The Keystone XL pipeline will benefit both our countries and will serve as a substantial – and smart – investment in American economic and energy security.
Keystone XL also will allow us to transport a significant volume of domestic oil, as well, further satisfying U.S. demand; up to 25 percent of the Keystone XL capacity will be dedicated to transporting domestic oil from Montana and the Dakotas.
America already has developed – and relies upon daily – the safest, most extensive transportation network in the world: 2.6 million miles of pipeline, through which we transport the majority of our nation’s water, chemical and energy resources. It is the same model upon which the Keystone XL pipeline would be designed, but with even more modern, state-of-the-art technology. As a matter of fact, 75 percent of the Keystone pipeline system is already built.
There is no safer method for transporting oil than using pipelines, as the historical operations data tell us. Free of ideological biases this data tells a story of oil pipeline transport that is swift, clean, efficient and safe. In fact, oil pipelines are 530 percent safer than rail, and nearly 50,000 percent safer than transportation by truck. Last year alone, 11.3 billion barrels of crude and refined petroleum product traversed the U.S. by pipeline, achieving a 99.999 percent safety record.
Pipeline transport is also better for our health, reducing air pollution, congestion and stress caused by rail and truck traffic. Consider the Four Bears pipeline, recently announced, which will remove the need for 300 truck-trips-per-day in rural North Dakota.
Opponents claim that oil sand resources – like those derived from Canadian oil fields and which would be transported within Keystone XL – are more corrosive than traditional crude oil, and so are more likely to cause spills. It’s a crafty debate tactic – stoking fear – but it is false. Oil sands-derived crude is simply heavy crude, minus the clay, sand and water. Most important – according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – there has never been a recorded case of pipeline rupture caused by oil sands-derived crude.
Finally, when pipelines are used for transporting oil, spills are rare; over the past quarter-century, the frequency of spills has decreased by 60 percent, and the volume of them has decreased by 40 percent, even as overall domestic production has increased.
As the rhetorically charged debate regarding the future of this pipeline continues, it’s vital that we keep a grasp on the facts, and the geopolitical and energy realities at the heart of the discussion. The resources in Canada are going to be developed with or without Keystone XL. We need them. And pipelines are the best, safest way to move these resources from one point to another.
The Keystone XL pipeline deserves support and approval.
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