By K.J. WEBB
Editor at Large
PRESIDENTIAL VISIT: President Barack Obama visited Oklahoma March 21-22. He also traveled to Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio during the trip in what his office says “is to highlight his administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, including his focus on continuing to expand responsible oil and gas development, increasing the fuel economy of the vehicles we drive which will save families money at the pump, supporting renewable energy sources, and investing in infrastructure and research and development, all of which play a central role in increasing our nation’s energy security.” Oklahoma Congressman John Sullivan, vice chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, offered the following statement reacting to President Obama, saying he will expedite the permitting process for the southern portion of the Keystone Pipeline during his visit to Cushing on March 22. “The southern portion of Keystone XL doesn’t cross international lines and doesn’t need presidential approval. In fact, this administration has done everything in their power to delay the Keystone process – just last week the President personally lobbied members of Congress to vote against it. Simply put, the southern portion of Keystone – from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast – is being built in spite of the Obama Administration, not because of them. This portion of the pipeline does require numerous permits, but those come from state authorities, army corps of engineers, and fish and wildlife services, not the president.”
MATT WANSLEY for GTR Newspapers
The construction of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada through the United States has fueled much controversy, especially during this time of rising gasoline prices. In general, proponents of the extended pipeline contend that more oil supplied to the U.S. and world markets will lower gasoline prices and would add much needed jobs, while opponents of the pipeline are concerned about environmental issues and that the oil would not be used for gasoline production in the United States.
The construction of the TransCanada $7 billion Keystone XL Pipeline would complement the original Keystone Pipeline and nearly double its size and capacity. The planned route for the 1,661-mile 36-inch XL pipeline, capable of transporting 830,000 barrels of oil per day, is from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Cushing, Okla., and further on to terminals in Nederland, Texas to serve the Gulf Coast refineries.
Fortunately for Oklahoma, the Obama administration supports the southern segment of the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, President Obama demonstrated his support for this segment with a visit to Cushing on Thursday, March 22. However, the administration continues to withhold approval for the northern section of the Keystone XL project.
The Cushing segment will create 600 jobs for the needed six construction camps and tank construction in Cushing. According to Terry Cunha, spokesman for TransCanada, the entire Keystone XL project would create 20,000 well-paying U.S. jobs, 13,000 in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing. Specifically, the 1,600-mile pipeline is broken down into 17 U.S. pipeline segments requiring 500 workers per segment. It also requires 30 pump stations that need 100 workers for each station.
A study on the Keystone XL project by the economic and financial analysis firm The Perryman Group () reveals the pipeline project’s significant impact on the U.S. economy. These effects over the life of the project include over $20 billion in total spending, over $9 billion in output, and nearly 120,000 person-years of employment. Adding in the project multiplier effects, the total impact on Oklahoma’s economy over the life of the Keystone XL project would be over $1.2 billion.
Mark Stansberry, chairman of The Group and author of the Barnes & Noble Environmental Politics National Bestseller “The Braking Point: America’s Energy Dreams and Global Economic Realties” says, “That the energy crisis that America and the world faces is very serious. Failure to effectively deal with this problem now will threaten our nation’s economic prosperity, compromise our national security, and could radically alter our way of life.” Stansberry emphasizes the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline. “In addition to the positive impact the Keystone project will have on jobs and the economy, it’s critical to recognize that this is a national security issue. The Keystone XL is important to our national security because we are in times of global political tensions which have the potential to seriously disrupt oil supplies.”
Despite the benefits the Keystone XL project offers, there are still questions about its environmental impact. Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate strategy at American Progress, regarding evaluation of the pipeline’s route through Nebraska, asks, “Will building the pipeline cause significant amounts of air pollution? If the pipeline leaks, what are the risks to the Ogallala Aquifer, which is critical to Midwestern agricultural production? Would the route put the Missouri River at risk for pollution through dirty tar sands oil?”
These are just some of the important questions that are being considered. To this point, Stansberry says, “There have been extensive research and environmental impact studies performed regarding the Keystone XL pipeline project since 2008. The studies show no adverse environmental effects.”
For now, notwithstanding the Cushing to Gulf of Mexico segment, the Keystone XL pipeline project cannot proceed because the administration has denied its permit application. In response to the permit denial, TransCanada will submit another application for approval of the Keystone XL project and expects that the exhaustive record and studies compiled over the past three plus years will be taken into consideration.
TransCanada reports it is devoted to minimizing environmental impact along the proposed route and will continue to work collaboratively with Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality to determine the safest route for Keystone XL that avoids the Sandhills. This process is expected to be complete in September or October 2012.
In addition, TransCanada has committed to a project labor agreement with the Laborers International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, -, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Pipeline Contractors Association.
To access and download the study, visit www.perrymangroup.com. For more information about the Keystone XL Pipeline Project visit www.transcanada.com or