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U.S. National Debt:

Keystone XL Pipeline Considerations

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

To say the Keystone XL pipeline project has been analyzed extensively is an understatement.  Over the more than 7 years since TransCanada originally applied for a Presidential Permit, the U.S. State Department has conducted extensive studies of this project in coordination with at least 12 federal agencies, along with various state and local agencies and Indian tribes and considered nearly 1.9 million comments.  The following are some considerations as Congress debates the project's merits. 

Environmental Protection -Pipeline opponents assert that the project will have detrimental effects on groundwater and air quality, increase greenhouse gas emissions and result in more oil spills. 

  • According to the State Department, the project is not expected to contribute to the violation of any federal, state or local air quality standards. 
  • The State Department analyzed possible effects on area aquifers and concluded that potential spills are unlikely to affect the water quality of aquifers along the project route.
  • A lower risk of spills through the project were projectedcompared to alternative shipping methods.
  • The department estimatedthat alternative transport options would result in a 28 percent or higher annual greenhouse gas emissions as compared to the proposed pipeline.
  • Ninety-five special mitigation measures, including some "above what is normally required," that Keystone agreed to incorporate into the project to reduce spill risk were noted

Economic and Job Growth -Those who oppose the pipeline also attempt to discredit the potential job growth and economic benefits of the project and claim that focus would be better spent on transportation, instead of pipeline, projects. 

  • The State Department estimatesthat the project would support approximately 42,100 jobs and approximately $2 billion in earnings throughout the U.S.
  • The Canadian Energy Research Institute foundthat an additional 85,000 U.S. jobs could be generated.
  • Further, the State Department projectsthat the project's construction would contribute approximately $3.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product, and a total estimatedproperty tax in the first full year of operations of approximately $55.6 million spread across 27 counties in three states.
  • Transportation and pipeline jobs are not mutually exclusive.  We can, and should, do both.  The Keystone XL pipeline, which is a privately financed project, can proceed while federally-funded transportation projects also proceed.  To truly give our economy the boost it needs, we must consider all avenues of job growth, not solely concentrate on one effort.   

Fossil Fuel Dependence -Opponents also claim that completion of the pipeline would further increase our nation's dependence on fossil fuels and the project does not make sense given current low crude prices. 

  • The cyclical nature of oil prices means that we need to plan beyond today's market. 
  • We cannot deny that our nation remains reliant on fossil fuels, and we should not forgo the better utilization of these resources.  We must implement a long-term, strategic energy plan that reduces environmental risks while improving domestic energy production. 

I support the approval of Keystone XL as it would provide a significant economic boost to our country.  The $7 billion privately-funded pipeline project would create thousands of jobs and provide tax revenue to states along its route.  Additionally, this project can help North America increase its energy security by reducing reliance on foreign resources from volatile countries and regions around the globe.  The American people should be allowed to realize the benefits of this project and not miss out on an important economic opportunity.

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