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Sun Sentinel: Bill Hodgkins: Approving the Keystone pipeline strengthens national security

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The debate on the Keystone XL pipeline has been vigorous, yet President Obama continues to stall approval of the project. Here in Florida, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has been a strong advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline and has correctly identified jobs benefits and potential boosts to small businesses that construction will bring. His favorable floor vote for the pipeline, along with 18 other Democrats, clearly demonstrated his commitment toward a strong energy policy. On behalf of Florida’s Veterans for Energy, we commend Rep. Murphy for his position on the pipeline.

However, given the continuing emergence of civil strife in the Middle East and the continued need to strengthen our national security through energy independence, it’s time that we urge Rep. Murphy to exert even more leadership by taking the issue directly to the president.

Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline construction will create thousands of jobs while potentially bringing 830,000 barrels of oil per day — about half of what is currently imported from the Persian Gulf. With the pipeline, crude imports from Canada could reach 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what we currently import from the Persian Gulf, reducing our reliance on unpredictable nations and strengthening our national security posture.

There are other obstacles that threaten current imported oil supplies to Gulf Coast refineries that produce Florida’s gasoline and diesel. The chaos that continues to grow in the Middle East has already impacted international oil prices through unpredictable production and shipping.

Closer to home, a hurricane in the Gulf could disrupt oil shipping lanes shutting down oil production in the Gulf as recent history has revealed. The Keystone XL pipeline can mitigate these threats by adding flexibility to our oil supplies from a secure source.

The Department of State review of the Keystone XL pipeline has now extended for five years with multiple environmental impact reviews revealing no significant risks. Labor unions, business leaders, congressional members from both parties, and more than two-thirds of Americans, support construction of the pipeline. So do veterans such as myself who understand the national security implications of energy independence.

We need the president to expedite a favorable ruling on construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Bill Hodgkins is the former director of plans at the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, and a former F-15 wing commander at Tyndall Air Force Base who resides in Tallahassee and Panama City.

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