The Keystone XL Pipeline: A Line in the Sand For America's Future

The Keystone XL pipeline-a line in the sand for America's future

Ask people about the future of energy, and you’ll probably hear mention of “solar,” “wind,” and “ethanol.” These developing energy technologies have been invested in, loaned to, subsidized, and mandated-yet they’ve repeatedly fallen short.

If the vaunted renewables aren’t yet ready for prime time, what will we do if, for example, Iran makes good on its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and blocks a significant supply of the world’s energy? Just the fear of a supply disruption bumped up the price of oil.

The geopolitics provide a perfect backdrop for pushing the pipeline that will boost the economy through more jobs and price stability, provide energy security, and help balance the trade deficit. Opponents see building the Keystone XL pipeline as a flashpoint for the struggle between old and new energy paradigms-yet with the failure of so-called future energy, the pipeline is representative of our energy future.

Untold billions of taxpayers’ dollars have been spent trying to force renewables into an unnatural economic timeline with the expectation that the laws of nature will bow to the laws of politicians. Yet, not one of them produces a significant percentage of our energy needs. If we lost 20% of our renewable energy, we’d never feel it. If we lost 20% of our oil supply-the amount that goes through the Strait of Hormuz, we could be back to the rationing and gas lines that are reminiscent of the Carter administration.

“President Obama repeatedly assured the American public that a slew of taxpayer-funded projects in his 2009 stimulus package were ‘shovel-ready.’ Yet few of these projects ever got off the ground, and the jobs they produced were negligible,” says National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow, Bonner Cohen. “By contrast, the Keystone XL project really is shovel-ready. And even though it would produce jobs and energy quickly, he refuses to give it the green light.”

In a time of economic war, the Keystone XL pipeline is a job creator that requires no new technology or research, no taxpayer funding while generating new tax revenues, and no new infrastructure-all with virtually no risk (financial or environmental).

Harold McGowen, President and CEO of Navidad Resources in Tyler, TX, explains it this way: “There is nothing new about pipelines. We already have over 2.3 million miles of pipelines in the United States, including about 55,000 miles of crude oil trunk lines. These crude oil pipelines have safely and efficiently transported the crude oil that is required to sustain the food supply, transportation, and quality of life of every American for decades. Pipelines continue to be the safest mode of transporting the lifeblood of the nation. They are safer than trains-which can derail; sea-going tankers-which can rupture, sink and run aground; and trucks-that can crash.”

The Keystone XL pipeline, and the tens of thousands of true shovel-ready jobs it can provide, isn’t just about moving oil from Canada to the US, it will allow for safer transport of new oil discoveries like North Dakota’s Bakken Field that produces more than 400,000 barrels per day. Because there is not enough pipeline capacity, Bakken oil is currently being taken to refiners in Louisiana via rail with the Bakken Oil Express’ capacity at only 100,000 barrels per day. Increased capacity, provided by the pipeline, would encourage additional oil development in the West, benefitting production in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

With the Keystone XL pipeline able to safely transport approximately 500,000 barrels of oil per day, the US could reduce oil imports from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait by 25% (or more)-making us less vulnerable to inevitable Middle Eastern unrest.

For the past sixty years, the US has been a net importer of petroleum products-meaning we’ve been sending our dollars to foreign countries and adding to our trade deficit (more money goes out than comes in). New discoveries, like the Bakken Field, have reduced the amount of crude oil we import, but, as previously illustrated, we still use more than we produce domestically. However, the US is now a net exporter of refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel-making fuel the top single export in 2011.

The Keystone XL pipeline will play an important role in America’s position as an ongoing fuel producer and exporter. Rather than counting on tankers crossing the ocean with crude, it will bring domestic and friendly foreign oil to refiners along the Gulf Coast. Many refiners are located on the coast because the tankers coming from the Middle East dock there. The crude oil is then unloaded and refined. Once refined, the fuel, as always, gets distributed throughout the US, but is now also sold and shipped to countries worldwide. An available and abundant fuel supply drops the price, and all sectors of the US economy benefit.

Economist Ben Stein says, “This country runs on energy, it doesn’t run on the hot air spewed out by environmentalists.”

The debate is not about a simple pipeline; it is really about development in America. It is a literal line in the sand. Polls show that the majority of Americans support the Keystone XL pipeline, yet a visible minority standing in front of the White House (and the White House standing with them) is able to stall or stop it. Similar efforts put forth by professional environmentalists and their “could,” “maybe,” and “might,” tactics, have been able to block or delay long-overdue road projects (that would create jobs), mineral extraction (that would create jobs), and new or expanded shipping ports (that would create jobs).

The Keystone XL pipeline is symbolic of the importance of the 2012 election. If the Keystone XL pipeline goes through-as every other previous trans-border pipeline has-America’s energy future will be taken from the hands of the protester and placed back into the hands of “we the people.” American ingenuity, industry, and exceptionalism will win.

© 2013 Energy Tribune

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