(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK) – On February 5, 2014 the U.S. State Department began what is to be a 30-day public comment period to solicit additional input regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. A spokesperson for the State Department stated that they hope to receive comments and submissions from the general public and other interested parties in regards to “national interest”, the vague criteria given to President Obama to determine whether or not to approve the permit.
As TransCanada executives anxiously await their fate regarding a Keystone XL decision, a former State Department employee who agreed to speak on the condition of autonomy, believes those inside the President’s inner-circle will continue to postpone the decision until a clearly advantageous political opportunity presents itself.
He further explained that, “In today’s politics you never try to accomplish something on merit alone. The President’s senior staff know this all too well and will not budge until they find a beneficial location in which to cash this political capital.”
I asked TransCanada spokesperson Terry Cunha about how they would proceed assuming the President were to deny their application.
“David, we remain committed to obtaining the Presidential Permit for Keystone XL. I cannot speculate on the next steps for the company if the permit were denied,” said Cunha. “.TTransCanada has about $2 billion invested to date in the Keystone Pipeline, that includes 155,000 tons of pipeline already fabricated.”
Opposition’s Reasons to Deny Keystone XL:
- According to the U.S. State Department the pipeline would create at most 6,500 temporary construction jobs, and would leave only “hundreds” of permanent jobs, according to TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline. Claims that the pipeline would employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of people are simply not true. A Cornell University study concludes the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create, by reducing investment in the clean energy economy.
- Tar Sands oil is the dirtiest oil on the planet. Producing synthetic crude oil from tar sands generates three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production. Extracting tar sands bitumen – a low-grade, high-sulfur crude oil that must be extensively refined to be turned into fuel – uses vast amounts of energy and water.
- Canadian tar sands oil would be exported. Keystone XL would have diverted Canadian oil from refineries in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast where it could be refined and exported. Many of these refineries are in Foreign Trade Zones where oil may be exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes.
TransCanada’s Reasons Keystone XL Should Be Approved:
Breakdown of jobs for the construction and manufacturing of base Keystone, Gulf Coast Project and Keystone XL:
- Base Keystone (in operation): 8,969 construction jobs to build
- Gulf Coast Project (southern leg of Keystone): 4,844 construction jobs to build. More than 11 million hours of labor were completed by 4,844 workers in the United States of America – heavy equipment operators, welders, laborers, transportation operators and supervisory personnel (including environment, safety and quality control inspectors)
- Keystone XL (U.S. portion): projected to take more than 9,000 construction workers to build
- Keystone XL (Canadian portion): projected to take about 3,900 construction workers to build
- Manufacturing (Gulf Coast, Keystone XL): 7,000 U.S. manufacturing positions are supported by the construction of the Gulf Coast Project and Keystone XL
Give Your Input: US State Department Seeks Comments from the Public
A 30-day public comment period began on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014. During this period, members of the public and other interested parties are encouraged to submit comments on the national interest determination to http://www.regulations.gov. Comments are not private and will be made public. Comments may also be mailed directly to:
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Look for upcoming additions to this topic in the coming days. In my effort to present the many side of the Keystone discussion. Look for my upcoming feature about recent talk of a minimum wage increase and the need for our leaders to take a stand, supporting the American worker instead of using them as political pawns.
(Video of interview segment regarding the pipeline’s environmental impact; leaks and spills now available.)