The following op-ed from David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared on the National Journal website here, in response to the discussion question “Should Obama Approve Oil Pipeline?” on August 9, 2010.

CEA strongly believes that the State Department should approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project.Once completed, the Keystone XL project would consist of three new pipelines that will span approximately 1,380 miles across the United States from Canada, with the capacity to carry about 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day initially with an eventual increased capacity of nearly 900,000 barrels in the long-term. The environmental footprint for this project is minimal — in fact, the total disturbed area for the project will only be approximately 150 square miles.

These secure energy supplies from the proposed pipeline will strengthen America’s energy and economic security, as well as create hundreds of high paying, family-supporting jobs along the way. The Government of Alberta projects that U.S. imports of Canadian oil sands will increase from current amounts of about 1.5 million barrels daily to nearly 4.3 billion barrels a day over the next two decades in order to meet increasing demand. CEA hopes that the benefits of such a project like the Keystone XL will be considered and fully supported by the federal government; especially at a time when we are importing more and more energy supplies from places around the world that do not share our strategic interests.

We believe that the State Department got it right in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the project, which studied the project’s potential impact on various environmental matters and found that the Keystone project would result in “limited adverse environmental impacts during both construction and operation”. We also believe that the Department of State’s environmental analysis for the Keystone Pipeline project should not include a lifecycle GHG analysis of the fuels that it will move. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that has been prepared for this project properly evaluates the greenhouse gas emissions that will directly result from the project. Any evaluation of the indirect GHG emissions (such as from oil sands production or the transportation sector) would be purely speculative and should not be considered.

Despite efforts to develop alternatives, crude oil will remain a critical component of meeting America’s energy needs for the foreseeable future. Ensuring access to affordable, reliable energy from our North American allies that provides economic and energy security benefits should be a national priority. Projects such as the Keystone pipeline will ensure increased domestic energy security, stable prices for consumers, along with minimal environmental impacts.

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