Keystone XL Pipeline Debate Makes Sense or Nonsense?

Obama must make a decision

Keystone XL Pipeline Debate Makes Sense or Nonsense

Today John Hoeven, North Dakota Republican, and Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, proposed legislation to allow the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The pipeline would carry crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the gulf coast, primarily Texas.

It’s important to note here that the pipeline would go through both Senator’s states, creating constructions jobs, but only until the completion of the project.  (Sounds like “pork barrel” material to me).

Proponents of the project claim it would create refinery jobs, help the economy, and lessen the trade deficit.  A recently completed environmental impact study reveals no negative implications.

Opponents contend that the pipeline would create few jobs in refineries.  They state that although supporters claim it would help maintain reserve fuel supplies, removing the need to purchase crude from unstable regions, such as Venezuela and Mexico, the vast majority of the manufactured product would be exported.  In simpler terms, the proposal would accomplish only one thing, to increase the profits of oil companies.

Surely Americans want and need more jobs, but can the pipeline deliver. It’s about time the Keystone XL Pipeline debate come to an either or resolution; either it makes sense or its plain old nonsense, and a decision in the matter is beyond overdue.

One side of the isle claims that most of the jobs created would be temporary construction jobs, returning workers to the unemployment ranks at its end.

President Obama will make an eagerly awaited decision about the pipeline this summer.  During the 2012 campaign it was an item of contention between Mr. Obama and his Republican opponents:  The former against its construction, and the latter pro.

Oil Change International, a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes the pipeline, presented new data Thursday showing how U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, especially along the Texas coast, have in recent years become major exporters of refined products.

The group says the Texas Gulf Coast refiners that would be the main recipients of Keystone-shipped crude exported more than 60% of their gasoline production, 40% of their diesel output and 95% of their production of petroleum coke in 2012. It based its numbers on U.S. Census Bureau data.

“These guys are already well into an export trend, and there’s every reason to believe that will only increase” with Keystone, said Stephen Kretzman, the group’s executive director.

Oil company representatives don’t see a problem with the findings of Oil Change International.

“The Gulf Coast is long on refining capacity and short on demand; exports will continue with or without Keystone XL,” said Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero Energy Corp., a major refiner that just expanded its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. “But exporting products is a good thing—it increases the utilization rate, keeps refinery employees on the job and helps the trade deficit.”

Mr. Obama must make his decision based on “national interest”, and not just the interests of special interests.

“If the national-interest determination is about figuring out what is going to make Valero the most money, then sure, maybe we should approve Keystone. But I don’t think that’s what the national-interest determination is supposed to be,” said Mr. Kretzman of Oil Change International.

Additional interest in the President’s decision has been created by the budget talks occurring in Washington.  Part of the President’s requirements for additional revenue include cessation of subsidies in the form of tax breaks for the petroleum industry.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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