Here are 5 arguments showing why, despite more than 5 years of debating and controversy and the project still not being approved, Keystone XL remains in the best interest of the U.S.
The Keystone Pipeline System is an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States. It runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States in Steele City, Nebraska, Wood River and Patoka, Illinois, and in the Gulf Coast of Texas. Besides the synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen from the oil sands of Canada, it carries as well light crude oil from the Williston Basin region in Montana and North Dakota. It is operational since June 2010.
“eXport Limited” (XL) Extension
The Keystone XL is an extension of the existing Keystone pipeline. It starts from the same area in Alberta, Canada, as the original Keystone pipeline. The Canadian section would consist of 327 miles (526 km) of new pipeline. It would enter the U.S. at in Montana, and travel through the city of Baker, Montana, where American-produced oil would be added to the pipeline, then it would travel through South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would join the existing Keystone pipelines at Steele City, Nebraska. This extension has generated a controversy because of its routing over the top of the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska and also because of some allegation of conflicts of interest.
The Big 5
Keystone XL will contribute more than $3 billion towards U.S. GDP. Taxes paid by the project will mostly benefit the towns and counties it passes through. Tax revenues for counties along the pipeline route is expected to increase by at least 10% for more than half of these counties. That means millions of dollars flowing into county budgets helping to fund community projects such as roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, as well as keeping property taxes down.
Energy Security and Independence
Keystone XL connects the third largest oil reserves on the planet and the second largest oil-producing region in the United States with the largest most sophisticated refining hub in the Gulf Coast. This guarantees a safe and secure access to U.S. and Canadian crude oil and is key to ensuring long-term energy security for North American.
After more than 5 years of wait, it is safe to say that the project is ready to come out of the ground. After approval, the construction it-self will put around 9,000 Americans straight to work. Looking at the big picture, in today’s economy and high unemployment rate, Keystone XL could ensure more than 42,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide.
Safety: #1 Priority
TransCanada goal is clear: making Keystone XL is the safest pipeline in North America. Below is a list of some of the important safety features publicized by TransCanada.
○ Horizontal Directional Drilling Technique (also “trenchless” technology)
○ Puncture Resistance (utilization of high-quality carbon steel with special features that reduce corrosion and enhance strength and pliability)
○ Corrosion-Resistant Coating (fusion-bonded epoxy)
○ Fail-Safe Valve Actuators (Keystone XL Pipeline will be equipped with more fail-safe actuators mounted on valves placed at shorter intervals than most, other existing oil pipelines in the U.S. These shutoff valves will be placed every 20 miles, and extra valves automated with spring return actuators will also be placed, where required, to protect water crossings and other areas of high environmental or strategic importance. This fail-safe automation process can isolate any area within few tens of seconds)
○ Satellite Monitoring and Leak Detection Systems (made of more than 13,500 sensors providing constant and detailed information about flow rates)
Finally, it has been well-established that pipelines are, by far, the safest mode of transportation for oil and gas. Besides pipeline workers are less likely to be injured on the job and pipelines have fewer incidents per mile than trains and trucks.
Despite the green polemic, the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, and several prior environmental impact statements altogether pointed toward the same conclusion: Keystone XL would have minimal influence on the ecosystem and environment around the pipeline. Moreover, it has been demonstrated by many scientific studies that Keystone XL and, in general, the oil sands have a marginal effect on global greenhouse gas emissions.