Eagle-Tribune Op-Ed: America needs Keystone, Dakota pipelines

Marty Durbin is executive vice president and chief strategy officer for the American Petroleum Institute, the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry.

If the administration of President Donald Trump is looking to start off with policies that create jobs and win bipartisan public support, moving forward with long-delayed pipeline projects is wise.

Signing executive orders to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines less than a week after inauguration, Trump stated, “We’re going to put a lot of workers, a lot of skilled workers, back to work.”

Indeed, the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region, would create about 42,000 jobs and generate $2 billion in earnings during construction.

Seven in 10 Americans – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents – support building Keystone XL, according to polls conducted during the height of the project’s debate.

During an exhaustive, six-year review process involving five State Department assessments, the project was deemed environmentally safe. Completing Keystone XL would boost U.S. energy security substantially, transporting 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries.

The Dakota Access pipeline was also ruled safe after a comprehensive, transparent and inclusive permitting process. Linking the energy-rich Bakken and Three Forks shale plays in North Dakota with major refiners in Illinois, the 1,172-mile project was actually 60 percent complete before the Obama administration halted construction in 2016, sending thousands of workers home.

The pipeline is a $3.78 billion investment supporting 8,000 to 12,000 jobs in four states. Finishing the job means well-paying work for America’s construction sector – a highly trained workforce – and a long-term investment in U.S. energy security.

Oil and natural gas pipelines transport energy at a 99.99 percent safety rate, and investing in additional energy infrastructure will ensure we can continue to deliver affordable energy to homes and businesses throughout the nation.

The latest energy projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration leave no doubt that oil and natural gas remain central to meeting energy needs for America’s homes and businesses, supplying a projected 68 percent of U.S. energy requirements in 2050.

On top of that, international projections say worldwide energy consumption will increase 48 percent by 2040, largely due to expanding economic opportunities in developing nations.

Add it all up, and it means we need more oil and natural gas to deliver affordable energy for Americans and grow our economy by supplying world energy demand.

American voters get it. Surveys show 80 percent support increased domestic energy production. With 94 percent of federal offshore acreage off-limits to energy development, there is ample room to grow. Restricted offshore areas could hold 50 billion barrels, or more, of oil and more than 195 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Expanding offshore oil and natural gas production could create more than 800,000 new jobs and grow our economy by up to $70 billion per year.

Experience proves we can increase energy production while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The United States leads the world in reduction of carbon emissions, which have reached 25-year lows in the power sector due to greater use of clean-burning natural gas.

Cleaner gasoline and diesel fuels produced by America’s world class refineries, in combination with more fuel-efficient vehicles, have contributed to a 70 percent reduction in U.S. air pollutants since 1970, even as vehicle miles traveled have increased by more than 180 percent.

Technological innovations and strong industry standards are succeeding in reducing emissions without sacrificing jobs or affordability. Applying those lessons to the government regulatory process can build on industry success without sacrificing jobs or jeopardizing the economic, environmental and energy security benefits delivered by America’s oil and natural gas renaissance.

We have the resources, the workers and the technology to remain a global energy superpower. Combine those assets with the right government policy, and you’ve got a winning formula for job creation and energy security.

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