Mar 04 2012

Obama Administration Made the Wrong Call on Keystone XL

By U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

President Obama’s lack of direction on energy policy is costing us dearly at the pump and in the pocket.  Nowhere is his lack of a vision more evident than in his decision to brazenly disregard our nation’s energy security in favor of short-term politics on the Keystone XL pipeline.


As gas prices rise and take an ever larger bite out of the family budget, the Obama Administration continues to stand in the way of this important project.


I was one of the first members of the United States Senate to visit the Canadian oil sands to see first-hand how this resource could benefit our country.  I know from my own experience, and in spite of all the heated rhetoric, issues like Keystone XL really don’t get much simpler to resolve.


Oil makes up a very large portion of our energy mix today and will continue to be part of that mix for decades.  While I support additional offshore drilling along our coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the fact remains we will continue to import at least a portion of our oil from other countries.


We now import a great deal from countries led by despots, thugs and anti-democratic nations.  Sometimes our money even goes to fund those who would do us harm.  The good news is our friend and ally Canada has oil and the means to safely and securely deliver it to us.


The Canadian oil sands are the world’s second largest proven reserves of oil.  Canada is currently ramping up production in the oil sands and deciding where they will sell this resource.


One possible customer is China who continues to aggressively lock down opportunities to secure the world’s energy supplies.  In fact, late last year after President Obama again delayed the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian Prime Minister met with China’s President to discuss the oil sands.  Whether China or the United States is the customer, the oil will be extracted.


In order to be less dependent on foreign oil from hostile nations, we should embrace our relationship with Canada and build the pipeline to our refineries.  To me the choice is clear: Keystone XL is in our national interest and it makes sense to do business with Canada – a long-time ally and trading partner.


How would the United States benefit?

  • Dramatic price hikes in oil create massive instability in our economy.  Keystone XL would lessen these oil shocks.
  • Imports from Canada are secure and reliable while imports from the Middle East or regimes like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela can quickly become unstable.
  • The Keystone XL Pipeline will create thousands of jobs in the United States. 
  • Canada is aligned with the United States on important environmental protections.
  • American dollars spent on crude purchases from Canada will likely come back to the United States in other forms of trade.


Today, well over 1,000 American companies supply goods and services to Canadian oil sands and pipeline companies.  Keystone XL is expected to create 20,000 direct jobs during construction and 118,000 indirect and spinoff jobs. It will also contribute $20 billion of economic impact to the United States during construction.  Every state benefits economically from this activity.

Some environmentalists call the oil sands ‘Dirty Oil’ regardless of the fact it has a similar carbon content as oil from off the West Coast and lower sulphur content.  In my book, the true meaning of ‘Dirty Oil’ is continuing to buy from regimes who hate our guts.


In August 2011, after three years of analysis, the State Department released its final Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL. Their report showed the pipeline would not have an undue environmental impact on air and water along its route.


Our country must secure future energy supplies and stop sending dollars to countries that use our wealth to hurt the United States.  We need oil and Canada has the means to deliver it to us.  There’s nothing more common-sense than expanding our long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship with Canada.


With gas prices continuing to rise, you should know every time you go to fill up at the pump, one reason you are paying a little more is because the Obama Administration continues to play politics with Keystone XL.