Special to the Journal
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) joined their Senate colleagues in urging President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would connect the Canadian oil sands to refineries in Texas. The letter was signed by 53 senators, and came a day after Nebraska’s governor approved a revised route for the pipeline to travel through the state while avoiding ecologically sensitive areas.“Nebraska has recently approved the new Keystone XL Pipeline route, and the project still awaits your approval four-and-a-half years after TransCanada first applied for a Presidential Permit and a year since you denied their original request, without prejudice,” the senators wrote. “Nebraska has now addressed the additional concerns you raised when you denied the permit, and we therefore urge you to finish expeditiously the review process and approve the pipeline. The State Department has said that it would issue the final EIS before the end of the first quarter of 2013. After four-and-a-half years of study, we urge you to stick to your administration’s own deadlines. The American people need a timely decision on your approval or denial of the Presidential Permit.” The text of the letter is below.
President Barak Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Nebraska has recently approved the new Keystone XL Pipeline route, and the project still awaits your approval four and a half years after TransCanada first applied for a Presidential Permit and a year since you denied their original request, without prejudice. Nebraska has now addressed the additional concerns you raised when you denied the permit, and we therefore urge you to finish expeditiously the review process and approve the pipeline.
Specifically, the new pipeline route in Nebraska avoids the Sand Hills, which you cited as a concern in your denial. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality determined the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact, support up to 4,560 jobs, generate $30 million of tax revenue in the first year and generate $418 million in economic benefits in Nebraska. This is on top of the thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development for our country. The pipeline is also a major step toward American energy security. Canada will develop this oil resource and the only question is whether we receive the oil from our friend and ally or whether Canada is forced to look for new partners in Asia because we turned them away.
The pipeline is supported by unions and businesses because it would create jobs and boost the economy. Some 75 percent of the pipe for the Keystone XL pipeline will be made here in North America, 50 percent of it in Arkansas. Some 90 percent of all other construction materials will come from companies in the United States and Canada. The pipeline is one of the largest economic and job creating infrastructure projects in the country – and it will not cost any taxpayer money.
On March 22, 2012, you directed federal agencies to accelerate approval of vital energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline. We strongly urge you to direct the State Department to accelerate the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and quickly complete the National Interest Determination.
This should be able to be done quickly. Your administration used 76 of the 90 days of the public review period of the National Interest Determination to consider the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2011. Note that aside from studying the Keystone XL Pipeline’s national interest, your administration previously made a National Interest Determination on the same keys factors relevant to Keystone XL. In 2009, the State Department “found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States. These included increasing the diversity of available supplies among the United States’ worldwide crude oil sources in a time of considerable political tension in other major oil producing countries and regions; shortening the transportation pathway for crude oil supplies; and increasing crude oil supplies from a major non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries producer. Canada is a stable and reliable ally and trading partner of the United States, with which we have free trade agreements which augment the security of this energy supply.
“Approval of the [Alberta Clipper] permit sends a positive economic signal, in a difficult economic period, about the future reliability and availability of a portion of United States’ energy imports, and in the immediate term, this shovel-ready project will provide construction jobs for workers in the United States.”
The factors supporting the National Interest Determination in 2009 are even more relevant today. Some constituencies have called on you to deny the pipeline and the jobs and energy security associated with it. Because the pipeline has gone through the most exhaustive environmental scrutiny of any pipeline in the history of this country, and you already determined that oil from Canada is in the national interest, there is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project.
Do not move the goalposts as opponents of this project have pressed you to do. We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security – in other words, to choose the national interest over narrower interests. It is vital for the country that you promptly finalize the SEIS and the National Interest Determination and approve the pipeline.
The State Department has said that it would issue the final EIS before the end of the first quarter of 2013. After four and a half years of study, we urge you to stick to your Administration’s own deadlines. The American people need a timely decision on your approval or denial of the Presidential Permit.