Thursday marked five years since TransCanada first filed its application with the U.S. government to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
President Obama has made various vows, particularly during last campaign season, to give the project expedited review, but it’s once again stalled. The State Department’s draft Environmental Impact Statement found in May that there should be no adverse impacts from the project, yet still approval is pending.
The State Department is necessary in the process because of the project’s cross-border nature. Secretary John Kerry has been mum about Keystone since assuming his new role.
“The president’s failure to lead on energy policy is the single most important reason for why this infrastructure project has been delayed for so many years,” Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said at a press conference with other pipeline supporters. “Canada is our closest ally and economic partner, and the pipeline adds another route to the extremely integrated North American network. Contrary to the president’s statements, the State Department estimates more than 40,000 jobs would be supported by the Keystone XL project.”
The $7 billion, 1,700-mile pipeline is expected to 830,000 barrels of oil a day to U.S. refineries. It includes not just oil from Alberta, but also 100,000 barrels per day of light, sweet crude from the Bakken region in Montana and North Dakota.
“North American oil and gas production is burgeoning, driven by a revolution in new technologies that are producing more energy with better environmental stewardship than ever before and it’s happening right here at home. Every concern has been reasonably answered, and it’s time for economic reality, common sense and the will of the people to prevail,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.).
Two majority votes in the Senate and several bipartisan letters to the president have expressed support for the project.
“It’s disappointing we’re at this point where five years later we still don’t have an answer on the Keystone XL pipeline. Just last month, I visited the oil sands in Canada and it only reinforced how critical the Keystone XL pipeline would be to North Dakota and the U.S.,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) “It’s in our economic, national security, and energy interests to approve this pipeline from our neighbor and ally as we continue to build an all-of-the-above energy strategy that could lead us toward North American energy independence. This project needs to be approved.”
According to a Harris poll released over the summer, nine in 10 Republicans and nearly 80 percent of Democrats and Independents believe the pipeline is in the nation’s interest.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked at yesterday’s press briefing whether President Obama would be willing to discuss Keystone with Republicans.
“The decision about that pipeline obviously is something that’s reviewed and evaluated and housed over — by and over at the State Department,” Carney said.