Alternatives Are Bigger Ecological Risks

Canada is the United States’ leading source of oil imports. Its production of oil from oil sands is increasing and will continue to do so independent of what the U.S. State Department does in its review.

Without the Keystone XL Pipeline there is no economical way to get that oil to U.S. refineries, so it will go elsewhere. That’s no small loss, considering the pipeline will allow us to use Canadian crude deliver 1.1 million barrels of oil a day — a serious dent in what’s being imported from the Middle East and Venezuela.

The State Department originally intended to complete its review by early 2011. Now, it has pushed the deadline back to the end of the year. The delay appears to be another case of political pandering to environmental extremists. Yet, the alternatives present far greater ecological risks.

Canada is going to produce its oil sands whether or not we import its product. Without the pipeline, the country will export its crude to another nation, most likely China. Transporting oil by way of a pipeline results in lower emissions than transporting it by tanker.

Moreover, American refineries are more efficient than China’s. And our cars have the lowest emissions of any likely importing nation. Consequently, building the pipeline would deliver the best option in terms of global emissions.

Construction approval shouldn’t take an act of Congress, although that was necessary to expedite construction of the TransAlaska Pipeline. If President Obama’s latest embrace of increased domestic oil production is genuine, he will tell Secretary Clinton to stop slow walking the approval process.

The objective of the State Department review is to determine if the pipeline is “in the national interest.” With gas prices nearing $5 a gallon in some parts of the country, if the answer to that is not obvious, our problems with Washington’s bureaucracy are greater than anyone imagines.

Federal review of the pipeline proposal has been underway since 2008 — the beginning of our worst recession in decades. This is a truly “shovel ready” project that would create jobs, invite private investment, and increase tax revenue.

The delay is simply another example of environmentalism run amok. From the Canadian side of the border, it must look incomprehensible and insulting. Our leaders bemoan imports from the most unstable regions in the world but dither over whether to replace them from a secure source and neighbor.

Objections by EPA are further proof that the agency is controlled by zealots who relegate economic interests to ideologies, especially off-oil ones. Arguments being used to delay construction are the same ones that were used to object to the TransAlaska Pipeline almost four decades ago. They proved bogus then and are just as bogus now.

Originally published by the National Journal at

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