Consumer Energy Alliance’s Florida Director Kevin Doyle writes in the Tallahassee Democrat about how the Keystone XL Pipeline project is in Florida’s best interest and will help to ensure stable and affordable energy supplies for the state.

For the last five years, we have been waiting for the Keystone XL pipeline’s approval. Already subjected to years of government study and delay, the pipeline project has now undergone multiple environmental reviews by the State Department, including a recent evaluation that found the pipeline’s construction and operation would have no significant impact.

That’s right. We are now one step closer to the finish line. Now President Obama is faced with the decision on what is within the nation’s interest. Does he choose more U.S. jobs, energy security and stable supplies of energy from our northern neighbor — or does he choose energy dependence?

Determining the nation’s interest in the Keystone XL project becomes clear when you evaluate why ending the five-year delay in approving the presidential permit needed for construction will help U.S. consumers.

First, the Keystone XL pipeline is exactly the infrastructure project the American people are looking for to create construction jobs and move the U.S. closer to energy security. Building the Keystone XL will bring 700,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude oil to the Gulf Coast, where it will be made into gasoline, diesel or aviation fuel to be sold in the United States. Such an energy supply increase will offer a major step toward U.S. energy self-sufficiency, ensuring that we are creating jobs and tackling our energy challenges head-on. This is especially true in Florida, a heavy energy-consuming state that depends on stable supplies of energy from other states and abroad.

Second, it will help to replace overseas oil from Venezuela with energy from Canada and the Bakken formation in North Dakota, and transport energy safely across the nation. This shift away from overseas crude will have significant strategic implications for U.S. foreign policy. Recently, a comprehensive study found that “increasing supply from Canada allows the United States to reduce its dependence on more distant supplies of oil by tanker, often from regions that are less stable and more susceptible to disruption.”

Third, the pipeline would allow us to further develop our relationship with Canada. Canada has already shown itself to be a great asset to us; last year, Canada was our top source for petroleum imports, according to gross import calculations by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This project would be an ideal way to continue developing our relationship with our neighbor and best trading partner.

This couldn’t be truer in the Sunshine State, where a number of economic benefits are directly contributed to Canada. According to latest investment figures taken from a study commissioned by the Canadian government, more than 200 Canadian companies have invested more than $3 billion in Florida while providing direct employment to more than 26,000 people across the state. Florida exports more than $4 billion worth of goods and services to Canada while importing more than $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.

With this in mind, it’s clear that the Keystone XL project presents Americans — and Floridians — with a valuable opportunity. If we do not take advantage of it, we can be sure that other countries will — to our detriment.

Florida and its leaders know and appreciate the importance of stable and affordable energy supplies for the state. By supporting the Keystone XL project, we will be supporting an “all-of-the-above” approach that enables us to explore all the energy sources available to us. The Keystone XL pipeline is a key part of this approach, since it will provide a cheaper, more stable source of oil that will benefit consumers in every sector of the U.S. economy.

As the countdown begins on the president’s decision on the Keystone XL project, it’s clear that the project will help the nation to find its path to energy self-sufficiency, jobs, energy security and stability. As the most-studied and safest pipeline in history, the Keystone XL pipeline project is within the national interest and enjoys the support of more than 70 percent of Americans.

It’s time to approach the finish line. It’s time to build the Keystone XL pipeline.