CEA’s Whatley on hand to participate in forum, submit comments in support of expanded Canada-to-USA pipeline

WASHINGTON – June 29, 2010 Is the U.S. government ready to take meaningful steps toward reducing America’s reliance on far-away, unstable energy while leveraging secure, proximate energy sources to create jobs and opportunity here at home? That’s the conversation that took place today at the U.S. State Department, as the agency held another in a series of public forums on whether to grant a final permit in support of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which, upon completion, is slated to deliver 900,000 barrels of affordable Canadian energy a day to consumers in the U.S. who need it.

“Some might consider the State Department an unlikely setting for a discussion on energy in the United States,” said Michael Whatley, vice president of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) and on hand today to provide comments in support of the Keystone project for CEA. “But actually, the Keystone pipeline project is right up State’s alley – especially since the project has the potential to advance key national imperatives related to energy security, affordability and access for millions of Americans. The best part is: It has the potential to do all that without bringing harm to the environment. That’s why CEA supports the project, and that’s why we will continue to work with all stakeholders involved to ensure it happens swiftly and responsibly.”

Once completed, the Keystone XL project will consist of three new pipelines spanning roughly 1,380 miles across the United States from Canada, with the capacity to deliver roughly 900,000 barrels of secure, affordable Canadian energy to American consumers over the long-term. Despite that reach, the actual environmental footprint involved in executing the project is minimal – with the total disturbed area for the project only expected to be 150 square miles. Because the pipeline originates in Canada and crosses into the United States, State Department approval is required.

In addition to CEA, a number of organizations representing consumers, organized labor, and state and local governments appeared at today’s forum to lend their unique perspectives on why the Keystone project is so important to them and their constituents.

“We came here today to show our strong support for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline,” said Russ Breckenridge, a legislative representative of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada. “Right now the construction industry is currently facing on average 20 percent unemployment, and in some areas our members are facing 40 percent. The TransCanada pipeline will begin to put our members back to work with high-quality jobs, with full benefits and worker protection.”

Added Breckenridge: “Our organization wouldn’t be supporting this project if safety was any concern. … As President Obama has told our organization many times, his number one priority is creating jobs and turning the economy around. The Keystone project will achieve these two goals.” (audio)

Richard Moskowitz, vice president and regulatory affairs counsel for the American Trucking Associations – a CEA member – told the forum that the trucking industry supports the use of renewable and alternative fuels in the transportation sector, but “for the foreseeable future we will be dependent on diesel fuel to deliver virtually 100 percent of the consumer products in the United States.”

Moskowitz also addressed concerns related to the carbon output of fuels expected to be delivered by the pipeline: “The carbon required to transport that oil from Alberta down to Houston is going to be less than the amount of carbon required to transport that oil across Canada, load it on super-tankers, and bring it to China – which is what will happen if we don’t use that oil here in the United States.” (audio)

Additional resources and audio files available from today’s State Dept. event: