Skip to content
U.S. National Debt:

From The Mailbag: Keystone XL Pipeline

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As active participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me to provide valuable input about the issues our country faces.  Realizing that many Idahoans may not have the chance to contact me, I also post the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my responses on my website.  The number one issue constituents have contacted me about recently is the Keystone XL Pipeline project.  The following is my response:

On January 30, 2012, Senator John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) introduced S. 2041, a bill to immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.  I am an original co-sponsor of this legislation that would permit the construction of the pipeline to proceed.  The Congressional Research Service determined that S. 2041 is within Congress' constitutional authority to regulate foreign commerce.  I support this bill, because it would conclude more than three years of comprehensive environmental review while providing economic benefits to the country.

In 2008, Canadian oil company TransCanada filed an application with the U.S. Department of State for the purpose of constructing and operating a pipeline to transport Canadian crude oil to facilities in the United States.  The Keystone XL project would be an extension of the existing Keystone pipeline that currently links Canadian sedimentary oil deposits in Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma.  TransCanada estimates that the pipeline would nearly double U.S. import capacity for Canadian oil sands crude while creating 20,000 direct jobs and spending $7 billion stimulating the economy.  The states along the pipeline would receive an estimated $5.2 billion in property taxes.

We all share the goal of achieving U.S. energy independence as soon as possible.  In a time of highly-volatile political unrest in the Middle East and high domestic energy prices, this concern for energy independence gets more important.  Developing and refining our North American crude oil resources is best for the United States.  The Heritage Institute reported that the Keystone XL pipeline would deliver an additional 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day to the U.S. from Canada.  Canadian crude oil could displace a portion of the crude oil that the U.S. refines from Venezuela and the Middle East, which reduces reliance on unstable foreign sources.  Steps to increase access to energy resources and increase jobs, such as the Keystone XL project, are steps in the right direction.

H.R. 3765, the Temporary Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, was signed into law on December 23, 2011.  A provision included in this bill, which I supported, required the White House to make a decision within 60 days of enactment on whether to approve or deny the Keystone XL pipeline.  On January 18, 2012, President Obama announced the decision of the State Department to deny TransCanada's permit application due to an alleged "inadequate time to determine whether the project was in the national interest."  TransCanada said it would immediately reapply for a new permit and hopes the application will be expedited, which could lead to an in-service date for the pipeline by late 2014.        

While there is some disagreement about where the product will be sold, there is broad agreement regarding the economic benefits during construction and operation of the pipeline.  The national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent, and the construction industry's unemployment rate is more than 13 percent.  The $7 billion pipeline project would directly create thousands of high-wage manufacturing and construction jobs while stimulating significant additional economic activity.  I support approving the project, as it would create jobs and help get the economy moving.

To view this response and other top five issues of interest, please visit my website at:

# # #

Word Count:  599