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Context Florida: Dave Mica: With all reports in, let’s build the Keystone XL Pipeline

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Another day, and another positive environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline was released Friday by the U.S. Department of State.  This is great news.

The Keystone XL pipeline would increase Canadian oil imports from 2 million to 5 million barrels per day — great news for U.S. energy security.  A $7 billion privately funded project, the pipeline will provide thousands of construction jobs.

The Canadian oil will be delivered directly to Gulf Coast refineries — great news for Floridians since that is where most of our gasoline and diesel is refined.  Great news, perhaps, but the history of this project demonstrates that we must encourage President Obama to approve it.

TransCanada submitted applications for approval of the project in September 2008.  Since the pipeline will cross the U.S. / Canadian border, the State Department must review the project to ensure that it is in our national interest.  If it had started in Montana, the State Department would not have been involved.  Essentially, the State Department’s assessment covers that small slice of pipe that crosses the border.

Initially, the application appeared headed toward routine approval, which takes about two to three years.  The State Department issued three draft environmental statements citing “limited adverse environmental impacts” and a final report in September 2011.

As inquiries about the project continued to mount, Obama announced in November 2011 that a decision would be delayed until after the 2012 election. He subsequently denied the permit in January 2012, citing an inadequate environmental analysis.

TransCanada did not give up, though.  Recognizing State Department approval was not necessary for the part of the project that extends from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast refineries, TransCanada started construction on this portion in February 2012.  Interestingly, Obama appeared at one of the pipeline construction sites to announce presidential support for the Gulf Coast Project, the southern leg of the Keystone XL.

The State Department issued another draft environmental impact statement in March 2013 that once again found the project will not have significant environmental impact, and, now, the final impact statement says the same thing.  Five years, five federal reviews, dozens of public meetings, more than a million comments and one conclusion — the pipeline would be unlikely to alter global greenhouse gas emissions.

The report concluded that TransCanada would extract roughly the same amount of oil from the region’s oil sands whether the pipeline is built or not.

The only thing left is for Obama to declare that this project is in our nation’s interest. The potential to improve our trade relations with Canada while enhancing our energy security is good for all Americans.

In just 10 years, we could meet all our liquid fuel needs solely from stable North American sources, which will enhance our national security. In short, the pipeline is a huge step toward making that a reality.  Now that all doubts have been removed, let’s encourage the President to support construction of the rest of the Keystone XL now.

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