After being sworn-in this weekend, President Obama will soon receive a second shot at approving the Keystone XL pipeline that will bring oil down from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.
Last year the President rejected the permit application at a time when America desperately needed jobs, and when his own State Department concluded that the project was environmentally safe. A year later, the arguments are still the same: Keystone XL will be a great economic boon and will be environmentally sound. As the State Department concludes its re-review of Keystone XL, the President should use his second chance wisely and approve the permit to construct the pipeline.
As a decision nears, both supporters and opponents of the pipeline are stepping up efforts to sway the President’s decision. The Canadian premier of Saskatchewan recently called on President Obama to approve the pipeline and sent a letter to the President along with 10 U.S. governors. Proponents of the pipeline’s construction understand that the project will bring thousands of jobs, increased economic activity, and billions in property tax revenue. Keystone XL is set to generate $1.8 billion in economic activity in Nebraska alone.
Environmental groups argue that the greenhouse gas intensity of Canadian tar sands oil will increase global warming. But blocking the Keystone XL pipeline is not going to stop Canadian oil extraction, and pipelines are proven to be the most environmentally safe way to transport oil.
From an environmental standpoint, this means that Canada will ship the oil overseas in tankers, a much less efficient method of transporting oil. It also means that China will refine the oil in refineries that are subject to fewer regulations than those in the U.S.—causing more, not less, environmental harm than if the pipeline were built in the U.S. Furthermore, the U.S. will have to import more oil via tankers from overseas, or carry crude oil from Canada in trucks or on rails.
Nebraska has been ground zero for controversy over the pipeline, as opponents feared the pipeline would threaten the state’s main water source. Despite the State Department’s initial environmental review successfully addressing this concern, Nebraska ordered another environmental review. Governor Dave Heineman (R) will soon make his decision after the state’s Department of Environmental Quality conducted a review of the reroute and determined the project will pose little environmental risk.
This turns the attention back to the State Department and President Obama. The election is over and it’s time to put politics aside. Approval of the pipeline spells jobs, economic activity, and a safe, secure source of oil imports. If the President is sincere in his statements that he wants to get America’s economy back on track, he should approve the permit for the pipeline.
Nicolas Loris is a Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Loris researches and writes about energy, environment and regulation issues such as the economic impacts of climate change legislation, a free market approach to nuclear energy and the effects of environmental policy on energy prices and the economy.