At a time of rising global competition for energy resources, the pipeline would bring reliable new oil supplies to a U.S. that still imports 40% of its crude, 7.6 million barrels a day last year. And 40% of those imports come from OPEC nations such as Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria. Keystone is expected to supply 830,000 million barrels a day, a key step toward the long-sought goal of North American energy independence, which suddenly seems attainable.
USA Today contends Keystone XL is an essential part of the U.S. energy plan.
The goal of locking down tar-sands oil and stopping other forms of fossil fuel production such as fracking — as many protesters demanded in Sunday’s demonstration — would be more compelling if the U.S. were ready to shift to renewable fuels such as solar, wind and biomass to power vehicles, heat homes and run factories. Last year, though, renewables supplied just 9.4% of all U.S. energy needs, despite robust tax incentives for wind power and electric cars. Shutting down conventional sources of energy at this point is naive and economically destructive.
Demand might be further reduced by making vehicles and buildings more efficient. A carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system could do the same by making the price of conventional fuels better reflect their cost to the environment.
Until that day, though, the best choice for the economy and the planet is to ensure ample, secure supplies of energy. The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of that strategy.