Michael Whatley

The costs of delays in the project are being borne by those laborers. Again, the Perryman Group report quoted by the State Department indicates construction and development would yield $9.6 billion in increased gross national product and $6.5 billion in added personal income or roughly $55,000 per person year of employment. That’s meaningful in rural states the Keystone XL will traverse, where per capita incomes are less than half that. Even the median household income in Montana is a full $10,000 below what Keystone related employment will deliver.

It’s time for President Obama to approve Keystone XL, which the U.S. State Department has already indirectly told us is necessary. Yes, the Environment Impact Statement considered alternatives, and it found, unsurprisingly, that neither an aboveground pipeline nor a smaller-diameter pipe were reasonable alternatives “because they would not meet the proposed project purpose and need and/or because of safety and security reasons.”

It also ruled out renewable energy sources and energy conservation as alternatives because “the crude oil would be used largely for transportation fuels and, therefore, any alternatives to the crude oil would need to fulfill the same purpose. The analysis found that even with renewable energy and conservation, there would still be a demand for oil sands-derived crude oil.” One can conclude from those evaluations that “no action” is also unreasonable. The only other alternatives involved some routing changes that, in the end, are of no consequence to whether the Keystone XL is necessary or not. Yet, that is where opponents have focused the debate, of course.

This why we should get on with it. Delays over the appropriateness of encouraging oil and gas development that Canada already regulates or environmental impacts that can be easily mitigated are all now, after all this study and delay, irrelevant to the only question that matters; whether it’s in the national interest. If you still need an answer, just ask those waiting for their next job. The answer is yes.

Michael Whatley

Michael Whatley is Executive Vice President of the Consumer Energy Alliance.