The following op-ed from David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared in the Washington Examiner here on June 28, 2010.

Move over Department of the Interior. Kindly step aside Department of Energy. Interested in finding a way to strengthen U.S. energy security while creating thousands of high-wage jobs in the places that need them most? That’s precisely the topic of debate tomorrow at State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom – part of a series of public hearings on whether State should issue a final permit for the expansion of a pipeline allowing additional supplies of secure, affordable energy from Canada to be sent to consumers in the United States.

As it is today, we already receive about 2.5 million barrels of petroleum from Canada each day – 2.5 million barrels, incidentally, that we don’t need to buy from suppliers in the Middle East. The good news is our imports from Canada are slated to grow significantly in the coming years.

The only challenge? We need to significantly expand existing pipeline capacity in order for this to happen. The Keystone XL project not only solves that problem, but it stands to create thousands of family-supporting jobs on both sides of the border along the way.

Believe it or not, oil sands from Canada are expected to become America’s top source of imported oil this year, surpassing conventional Canadian imports and almost equaling the volume of crude received each day from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined.

In Canada’s oil sands, we’re talking about an energy resource that’s expected to grow from a share of 1.34 million barrels a day of the American market to as many as 5.7 million by 2030 – or about 36 percent of U.S. oil imports by then. But for these opportunities to be fully realized, we need the infrastructure in place to actually get it here.

That’s why Consumer Energy Alliance supports the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project and the State Department’s recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement – a document that analyzes the potential environmental impact of the pipeline’s siting and construction, and ultimately confirms that the delivery of secure, affordable supplies of Canadian energy to American consumers can be done without harming our environment.

And, while a final decision by the State Department has not been made on the Keystone Pipeline, what we’ve seen so far portends positive news for American consumers.  The Keystone is initially slated to carry 700,000 barrels of crude per day, eventually increasing to 900,000 barrels — significantly strengthening America’s energy and economic security, as well as creating more than 13,000 jobs in the project’s initial construction phase alone.

Not a bad shot in the arm for the U.S. economy, right? Unfortunately, some in Congress oppose the pipeline and are working hard to stop it – citing an outdated figure for the energy intensity of Canada’s oil sands and openly suggesting that the answer to America’s energy challenges is to starve ourselves of the most secure and affordable sources available in our hemisphere.

Of course, the reality is that per-barrel emissions from the oil sands have dropped every single year since records have been kept, and today are comparable to the lifecycle energy rating of petroleum you’d find anywhere else in the world – including the United States.

And the story gets better every year. Consider: CO2 emissions from the production of oil sands have come down by an average of 39 percent per barrel since 1990.  In some facilities, the reduction has been as high as 45 percent.

As the State Department considers the application for the Keystone XL pipeline, we urge it to remember the economic and energy security benefits of Canada’s vital resources and the 2.5 million barrels of petroleum Canada sends the United States each and every day.

In this day and age, working to expand America’s access to secure, reliable and affordable energy supplies from friends in the hemisphere makes a lot sense. And it just might make a lot of jobs as well if the State Department allows us to seize on the opportunity.