In April this year, President Barack Obama rejected the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline due to concerns about the pipeline’s potential environmental impact on Nebraska’s Sand Hills region. The House has passed the bill multiple times, but Keystone XL has dragged on for over three years due to political indecisiveness in the Senate and opposition by the President. The bill outlines plans to extend the existing Keystone pipeline to supply southern states like Oklahoma and Texas with shale oil. By buying cheaper oil from the Canadian oil production company TransCanada, it would increase oil imports by 830,000 barrels per day. Congress and the President should stop delaying the bill and pass Keystone XL because oil is a cleaner and more dependable source of energy than coal, provides crucial oil to the private sector and decreases our oil dependence on politically unstable countries in the Middle East.
While oil has a bad reputation, it actually decreases U.S. greenhouse emissions because it allows factories to avoid using coal, a worse alternative. Since the 2000 spur of U.S. domestic oil production through hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, total emissions have decreased at a rate of approximately three percent every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Companies find shale oil more attractive than coal because it costs less and effectively lowers their emissions. Passing Keystone XL would help lower emissions and provide consumers with more oil than overseas energy and coal.
By providing private energy companies with cheaper energy, corporations can use the extra funds to produce more, buy more and invest more. Consequently, the implementation of Keystone XL is projected to create 600,000 long term jobs in the energy sector and add $521 billion to the U.S. economy by 2035.
In addition, Keystone XL provides energy security, an overlooked problem that the United States faces due to overseas oil reliance on Middle Eastern countries. These countries undergo political transitions that can contribute to high-risk levels when mutual, economical engagement occurs. Political instability can lead to fluctuations in oil prices. However, by making politically stable Canada a major source of oil, the U.S. will be able to expect more reliable prices.
The only problem legislators have with Keystone XL is that there is a lack of information regarding its overall infrastructure, according to a claim made in a single report by the EPA in 2010. Despite an array of environmental concerns regarding the pipeline’s infrastructure, the EPA reported in its final report that the pipeline would pose “no significant impacts.” Since then, the EPA and federal departments have continuously affirmed the pipeline’s safety when met with doubt from the public or legislators. Despite thorough investigation by the EPA in June 2011, Obama called on the Department of State a few months later to conduct another study. The first yielded inconclusive results, while subsequent reports agreed with the EPA’s stance. Just a few months later, with political momentum pressuring the president to take action, Obama sent it back for another inspection, which only revealed more information backing the pipeline’s safety.
The nation has felt the effects of over three years of energy inefficiency because legislators and the President have continuously delayed the comprehensive opportunity presented to them. Current problems such as expensive energy, a declining economy and unreliable energy sources would be solved with the implementation of Keystone XL. It is time that Obama steps up to the plate and takes positive action toward the bill.