Guest Column: Keystone XL Pipeline important to Florida

The construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline will provide significant economic benefits to American workers and American energy consumers across the United States. Despite the enormous impact the pipeline will have for our nation’s energy security, the project has yet to be green-lighted by President Obama.
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P has proposed to construct a 1,700-mile crude oil pipeline that would extend from Alberta, Canada to terminals along the Texas Gulf Coast. Since its initial application, the project has been divided into two construction phases — one pipeline will be constructed from Alberta to Nebraska and the second one is under construction between Oklahoma and Texas. An existing pipeline will connect the two. The portion of the pipeline connecting Alberta to Nebraska must receive a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of State before construction may begin.

It is not a secret that countries such as China and India, whose fast growing economies are in need of stable supplies of energy, would not hesitate if given the opportunity to access the energy resources of Canada. There are many industry leaders who believe that if the Keystone XL Pipeline is not approved by the Obama administration, that our allies in Canada may aggressively look at sending their crude oil west to Asia thus forcing the United States to further depend on imports from less-than-stable areas of the world.

With President Obama’s recent speech regarding climate change attempting to link the Keystone XL Pipeline approval process to additional regulatory oversight, the possibility exists that Canadian crude would not be refined in the most technologically advanced facilities in the world here in America but rather in outdated facilities in China and India that have little or no oversight and little or no environmental protections. Not only would this potentially harm U.S.-Canada relations, this would also hinder the very emission goals that the president claims he wants to work towards.

While many know the positive economic impact that the pipelines from Canada have on America and in particular Florida, a heavy energy-consuming state that depends on stable supplies of energy sources from other states and abroad, many people do not know of the additional economic benefits that Canada brings to the Sunshine State.

According to latest investment figures taken from 2012 study commissioned by the government of Canada, currently over 200 Canadian companies have invested over $3 billion dollars in Florida while providing direct employment to over 26,000 people across the state.

Florida exports over $4 billion worth of goods and services to Canada while importing over $3.6 billion worth of goods and services.
In addition to the massive amount of trade being conducted in our state, nearly 4 million Canadians visit Florida every year contributing nearly $4 billion to the Florida economy while helping to create additional jobs in our tourism, housing and service industries.

Florida’s elected leaders understand the importance of Canada to our state. Recently, a technical issue regarding drivers’ licenses for Canadian visitors threatened to create a perception that Florida was sending an unwelcome message to our friends from the north. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature acted quickly to address this issue and fixed it.

Florida and its leaders know and appreciate the positive relationship between Canada and Florida. America doesn’t need to alienate one of our strongest allies by delaying the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline any longer. Let’s hope our national leaders learn from Florida’s leaders and do the right thing and approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Not only does it reinforce our strong relationship with Canada but also further ensures America’s energy security.

Kevin Doyle is executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida, the state affiliate of a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. He grew up in St. Augustine.

First Published at by the St. Augustine Record.