Washington, D.C. In a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee today on the country's energy outlook for 2012, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin questioned experts about why the Keystone XL pipeline has become a "political football" when everyone agrees it would create jobs and reduce America's dependence on oil from hostile countries. The Keystone XL pipeline would bring oil from Canada to the United States, and it has become a point of debate in Congress.
"I'll get right to the point. I have a hard time understanding why this has become a political football. It makes so much common sense that you want to buy (oil) off your friends and not your enemies," Senator Manchin said. "There should be jobs created in the United States by this building of the pipelineThe Canadians are going to produce this no matter what. And if China becomes a player at taking this product if we don't what does it do to our security? And security should be the main factor of what we should be concerned about."
Experts at the hearing including Dr. Howard Gruenspecht, acting administrator of the Energy Information Administration and Ambassador Richard H. Jones, deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency replied that the Canadian oil sands would likely be developed, even if the United States rejects building the pipeline. Experts also said that the pipeline would create jobs. Canadians are in talks with China to send the oil across the Pacific.
Senator Manchin also pointed out that the U.S. State Department has already conducted Environmental Impact Studies about the pipeline and has twice approved construction. He said that the Environmental Protection Agency has a different approach and the governmental agencies are fighting within themselves.
Senator Manchin is cosponsoring a bipartisan bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been subject to rigorous environmental analysis for more than three years, and was on schedule to be decided on by the U.S. State Department by the end of 2011. By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline took two years to review and became operational last year.
The legislation builds off the completed Environmental Impact Statement, which was finished by the State Department on Aug. 26, 2011. Additionally, it requires the U.S. State Department to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within 30 days with the State of Nebraska to assist in rerouting in that state, which will be subject to the Nebraska governor's agreement on the route within the state. However, it allows Nebraska all the time it needs to identify a new route within the state to strengthen the completed Environmental Impact Statement.
Further, the legislation requires strong environmental and safety requirements by incorporating the environmental and safety standards required and finalized by the Secretary of State. At the same time, the bill protects state and local laws relating to the protection of private property rights by ensuring those laws are not changed in this process.