Today marks yet another unfortunate milestone in the Keystone XL Pipeline saga. It’s been six years since TransCanada first filed its initial application to the United States government to build the Keystone XL Pipeline and the wait for a presidential permit is still on.
Over the past six years we have seen a great deal of evidence demonstrating why Keystone XL should be built and why it is in the national interest of the United States. The U.S. State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) and four previous environmental impact statements all reached a similar conclusion: Keystone XL will be the safest pipeline ever constructed on American soil, would have minimal impact on the environment, will create thousands of much-needed jobs and will bolster U.S. energy security. The continued delay in approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is keeping good, high-paying jobs away from American men and women as well as sending American dollars overseas to hostile regimes that do not share many of North America’s interests and values.
Phase I of the Keystone Pipeline System was reviewed and approved in 23 months. In 2008, the State Department determined that the Keystone Pipeline was in the national interest, in part, because “it increases U.S. market access to crude oil supplies from a stable and reliable trading partner.” In 2008, Canadian oil represented “a safe, secure supply for the North American market.” Keystone XL offers the very same benefits, in addition to providing safe, reliable transport capacity for growing U.S. oil production. These same conditions exist today.
The Keystone Pipeline has now safely delivered three-quarters of a billion barrels of oil from Canada to refineries in the U.S. Midwest. That project created thousands of construction jobs for American laborers, significant increases in tax revenue to communities along the route and greater energy security for the United States. The original Keystone Pipeline without a doubt demonstrates the key benefits that would derive from Keystone XL if a Presidential Permit is granted. So what have these ongoing delays cost?
According to the FSEIS, Keystone XL would support 42,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction of the pipeline contributing to approximately $2 billion in wages throughout the United States. Delays prevent these jobs from being realized.
Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Business Manager Ron Kaminski remembers his time being involved with the construction of the Keystone Pipeline as a positive experience. “It was a great relationship, great project, we put a lot of people to work, provided a lot of income for members . . . We’re not talking about seven-dollar-an-hour jobs; we’re talking about packages in the 30- to 40-dollar-an-hour range.” For Kaminski and LiUNA members having Keystone XL approved would mean a great deal as it would put more Americans to work providing the same positive benefits as the first Keystone Pipeline did.
Terry Moore, President of the Omaha Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO also strongly believes in the job creation from Keystone XL. “The Keystone XL Pipeline will create jobs all the way through this country…everyone benefits, its economic development, there are no losers.”
We know Keystone XL will deliver significant economic benefits from experience. In 2012 alone approximately $37 million in property taxes were derived from the Keystone Pipeline being operational, increasing to $44 million in 2013. These additional revenues have helped address local infrastructure needs like roads, bridges, hospitals and other facilities that improve the standard of living for Americans.
Steele City, Nebraska, where a pump station from the first Keystone Pipeline is located, is one of the many communities which received direct and real benefits from the Keystone Pipeline. Bill Scheele, Mayor of Steele City says construction of the pipeline positively impacted his community in more ways than one. “They’ve brought some business into town, the camp grounds were full, and an evaluation of the taxes really raised…the school district is one of the wealthier school districts around”.
If Keystone XL were built, communities along the route would see similar benefits to those in Steele City. The FSEIS projects that seventeen out of 27 counties which Keystone XL crosses are expected to see tax revenues increase by 10 per cent or more. This would contribute to approximately $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP and an overall economic boost for America.
These benefits, still, are yet to be realized.
It’s time to build Keystone XL
As a result of the delays, American companies who are helping us build this pipeline have had to make some tough choices and so have we. Some people have had their hours reduced, been re-assigned or in some cases, have been laid off. That is the reality for more than 9,000 American men and women who have been looking to Keystone XL for work to get a pay check, provide for their families and save for retirement.
See the impact of Keystone delays on Welspoun Tubular a major employer in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Since 2008, almost 10,000 miles of oil pipelines have been constructed in the United States – the equivalent of eight Keystone XL pipelines. And yet our project sits idle, all while the U.S. continues to import seven to eight million barrels of foreign oil each day from some countries that do not respect our collective values or the rule of law.
In the U.S. there are a million more barrels per day of oil on the rails today than there were in 2008 – about 1,400 more tank cars per day. In Canada, in just two years, there has been a 900 per cent increase in the amount of crude oil moving by rail. Considering the concerns raised by farmers, auto manufacturers and travelers about having even more oil move by rail this does not make sense. Inefficiency and delays in making a decision on Keystone XL have driven up the cost of the project significantly. This means higher costs for American oil shippers and refiners. Those costs, unfortunately, will likely be passed on to all of us as consumers.
Our goal is to have more oil moving through pipelines which are safer, produces fewer emissions and provides safe, secure and reliable supplies of oil to American refineries. Unfortunately our opponents do not appear to share this goal. Instead, they appear to be content for purely symbolic reasons killing American jobs, forcing more oil deliveries by rail, driving up GHGs and ensuring the U.S. continues to rely on conflict oil from overseas. This is an outcome most Americans would disagree with.
Americans of all political stripes and colors support building this project. For more than three years public opinion has been overwhelmingly in favor of construction. That’s because the American people understand the choices before them. The choice is whether Americans want to invest in the infrastructure that supports our domestic industries, creates jobs and opportunity in America or do they want to continue to send those investments, those jobs and those opportunities overseas.
We remain committed to Keystone XL and America. All we need is the approval to make it happen.