As we draw near to a decision on a presidential permit to build the
proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the rhetoric by our opponents trying to
make the project a referendum on oil sands development is becoming more
shrill and even less factual. These activists would have you believe
that a Keystone XL approval means game over for humanity and the planet.
Such claims are wildly inaccurate and completely unhelpful for
Americans trying to learn the facts about Keystone XL, which has gone
through four federal environmental reviews and four strong votes of
support from the U.S. House.
In truth, greenhouse gas
emissions from the Canadian oil sands contribute 1/1000th of the total
amount of emissions globally. A 2012 U.S. Congressional Research Service
study found greenhouse gas emissions from energy produced from oil
sands crude delivered by Keystone would increase U.S. annual greenhouse
gas emissions by a paltry 0.06 to 0.3 percent.
crude oil in Keystone is the same as the millions of barrels of crude
oil already being transported across the U.S., and it poses no
additional risk to the public. The U.S. Department of State’s updated
environmental impact statement on Keystone XL concluded that the
pipeline will have minimal impact on the environment.
claim that the oil sands will surface mine an area the size of Florida
is completely incorrect. Alberta’s surface mining area is limited to an
1,850-square-mile region near Fort McMurray, about 3 percent of the size
of the Sunshine State. Just 294 square miles of this area is being
disturbed by oil sands mining.
Pipelines are by far the
safest way of transporting petroleum products. Our existing Keystone
pipeline has safely delivered more than 400 million barrels of crude oil
to U.S. refineries since
July 2010. The pipeline in
the ground has never leaked — period. Batchelder knows that the small
number of spills that have occurred from Keystone have all been related
to leakage from small fittings and seals on our property at above-ground
pump stations, all of which were repaired and cleaned up with no
environmental impact. The average amount of oil leaked was five gallons.
have maintained since 2010 — and the State Department concurs — that
building the pipeline will create 20,000 construction and manufacturing
jobs for American workers and is expected to inject approximately $3.4
billion into the U.S. GDP.
Right now, 4,000 American workers are constructing the Gulf Coast Pipeline
Project from Cushing, Okla., south to Nederland, Texas, to serve the Gulf Coast marketplace.
polls indicating that approval ratings for Keystone XL are 60 percent
and growing among the American public are proof that people are getting
the facts about this important project. The misinformation and scare
tactics used by opponents of Keystone XL and all fossil fuel development
can only work for so long — and then the facts will get in the way.
That’s why increasing numbers of Americans are throwing their support
behind Keystone XL.
—Alex Pourbaix, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Pourbaix is TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines.