For Jobs and Energy, Keystone Pipeline Must Be Built

August 8, 2012 2:54 pm | Categories:

Kansas City Star

August 7, 2012
By Sarah McEuen—UA Pipeliners Local 798

With 12.5 million people out of work and a 14.5 percent unemployment rate in the construction industry, one would think that approving a construction project that will directly create 20,000 good-paying jobs would be a no-brainer.

The project wouldn’t cost a dime of taxpayer money.

Business groups and labor unions alike offered their support.

And a broad, bipartisan group in Congress — including Missouri’s own Sen. Claire McCaskill — backed it.

Yet the White House rejected the Keystone XL pipeline.

This decision is supremely disappointing, particularly to the labor community.

Fortunately, the company building the pipeline, TransCanada, reapplied to build it. We hope the government will move quickly to approve the project.

Keystone has the potential to deliver 830,000 barrels per day of oil from Canada’s massive oil sands field in Alberta down to refineries in Texas, boosting our supply of oil and greatly enhancing our energy security.

In addition to the thousands of direct jobs created by the construction of the 1,700 mile-long pipeline, the project would generate tens of thousands of other spin-off jobs in support industries.

And the project is safe.

For starters, this wouldn’t be America’s first oil pipeline. There are already 53,000 miles of existing crude oil pipelines crisscrossing the United States and an additional 30,000 miles of smaller “gathering lines.” Then, there are about 95,000 miles of pipelines that deliver gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, and other energy liquids like propane. All operate without wreaking environmental havoc.

Keystone itself has an existing pipeline that runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and over to Illinois.

Keystone XL has met 57 specific pipeline safety standard requirements created by the State Department over three years of environmental review.

To help prevent or minimize any spills, the Keystone system and the planned XL extension is state-of-the-art, with thousands of sensors to detect and mitigate any leaks that might occur.

There are also the realities of energy security.

It’s in our interest to import oil from Canada, a friendly neighbor, rather than overseas.

Further, oil imported from overseas is a blow to workers here in the United States.

As Mark Ayers, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, explained, “Environmental activists … will applaud the fact that they successfully induced the White House to block this project. Meanwhile, thousands of proud Americans throughout the heartland will once again be faced with the terrifying prospect of losing their homes and their livelihoods.”

Canada has made it clear that if the United States rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, it will sell the oil to China, which Canada’s Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver says is “very eager” to import oil from Canada.

As Sen. McCaskill has smartly put it, “It’s not a question of if, but where and when” the pipeline will be built.

“Rather than have it go east/west in Canada to supply oil that we have to buy, it would be better for those jobs to go through our country, as long as it’s done in an environmentally responsible way.”

TransCanada’s decision to reapply for the permit and address the concerns of environmentalists means there’s still hope.

If the administration approves this pipeline, many Americans will get the jobs they so desperately need — and our nation will have more energy security.