Keystone Pipeline offers ‘shovel-ready’ jobs, advances energy security

As elected representatives in our respective nations, we were equally disappointed in the announcement by President Barack Obama’s administration that it would delay a final decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline until 2013.

We both strongly support this project to build a 1,959-mile pipeline to deliver oil from Canada’s oil sands in northern Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The project will create thousands of American jobs — an estimated 13,000 construction jobs and 7,000 indirect, manufacturing-related jobs during the construction phase alone, plus hundreds more in refining, marketing, maintenance, delivery and related businesses over the long term.

This is a truly “shovel ready” private-sector infrastructure project that will benefit both nations and not require one dime of federal or state funding, nor any preferential tax incentives to start it or keep it operational.

In addition to putting thousands of Americans back to work, the Keystone project will provide a secure source of the crude oil necessary to fuel any American economic recovery. It is estimated the pipeline will deliver 700,000 barrels a day of Canadian oil to American refineries and markets — oil that is, has been, and will be for the foreseeable future, the driver of American economic and industrial might.

An abundant, nearby, stable supply of oil also will have the effect of keeping domestic fuel prices in check, helping to ease the financial burden on hard-working American families and businesses.

It is impossible, too, to ignore the national security implications of this endeavor. Much has been said, by analysts across the political spectrum, about the dangers of American reliance on oil imports from unstable, potentially hostile nations and regions, such as the Middle East and Venezuela. Anything that can be done to reduce that reliance on overseas oil and replace it with a stable, secure, abundant source closer to home is in the interests of both our nations.

It simply makes more sense for the United States to procure the oil it requires from a friendly, stable, next-door neighbor than from notoriously unstable regimes half a world away, whose relationship with the West is vacillant at best, outright hostile at worst.

All of this can be accomplished with no adverse environmental effects. Volumes of environmental impact statements, studies and assessments have concluded the Keystone pipeline’s design, route and construction are more than sound enough to prevent any harm to the health and safety of the land, air, water and people with which it may come in contact.

The company that is building the pipeline, TransCanada, has even offered to reroute the pipeline around the Ogallala aquifer in the Nebraska Sandhills, voluntarily incurring millions in additional costs, in a conciliatory effort to assuage real or perceived environmental concerns.

Canada has eagerly and naturally offered the United States first chance to be a customer for this resource, affording our country an opportunity not yet presented to any other nation. It is not surprising that this should be so. The United States and Canada have, for nearly two centuries, been each other’s nearest neighbors, largest trading partners and closest allies. Despite our occasional disagreements and differences in approach, we share not only the longest undefended border in the world, but a set of common values, interests and a shared worldview.

This, really, is what makes the Obama administration’s waffling on this issue so disappointing. The economic reality is Canada must develop this valuable oil-sands resource, and is therefore prepared to examine other options if need be. It goes without saying that the Canadian people would much rather partner with their friends and neighbors in the United States to keep this oil on our own continent than sell it to a potential strategic competitor with the human rights and environmental record of China. But the sobering fact is, if faced with only political gamesmanship and indecision in America, Canada will have little choice but to build the pipeline to the Pacific, for sale to China and other Pacific Rim countries.

The Keystone XL pipeline provides an opportunity for real, private-sector, free-market economic stimulus. It is a wonderful example of bilateral cooperation between friends that offers enormous benefits to both. Together, we urge President Obama and officials in his administration to put aside frivolous and puerile political considerations and approve the thousands of jobs and great strides toward energy independence provided by the Keystone XL pipeline and to help ensure the prosperity and security of our two great nations for decades to come.

Rep. Scott Tipton is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Hon. Rob Anders is a Conservative member of the Canadian Parliament, representing the Calgary West riding (electoral district).

To read more, visit http://www.gjsentinel.com/opinion/articles/keystone-pipeline-offers-shovelready-jobs-advances