Despite spring snow, more than 1,000 people stood in line in Grand Island, NE to speak at the only public hearing on the State Department’s latest environmental analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Linda Rozette, Vice President of Communications at the American Petroleum Institute, tweeted a picture this morning:
— Linda Rozett (@lrozett) April 18, 2013
An Associated Press story finds that most Nebraskans back the pipeline:
A poll last year by the Omaha World-Herald showed Nebraskans support the pipeline by more than a 2-to-1 ratio, and the state’s governor and congressional delegation — all Republicans — have either backed the plan or relaxed their opposition.
Watch the video above to see Nebraskans explain why President Obama should approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Support isn’t localized to Nebraska. Bloomberg talked to Ronnie Hill, a union welder from Texas, who drove 11 hours to speak in favor of the pipeline. Hill underscores the strong union support for the pipeline that would move Canadian oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast because of the jobs produced. The State Department estimates that over 40,000 jobs would be created.
In comments on the State Department’s environmental report, Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, wrote, “The economic impact and long term benefits of the construction of the KXL pipeline are significant and vitally important to American jobs and the economy, especially during this time of economic recovery.”
That’s why people are standing in the snow today in Nebraska.
Also, read Mark Green’s post at Energy Tomorrow where he breaks down the Keystone XL pipeline’s many benefits and the union support for the project.
Tomorrow, the U.S. State Department will hold the one-and-only public hearing on the Keystone XL Pipeline in Nebraska as part of its ongoing environmental review process. A quick history lesson: The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed in 2008. In January 2012, even after the project had passed multiple environmental reviews by the State Department, President Obama rejected construction of the part of the pipeline running from Canada to Nebraska on the grounds that it would violate the environmentally sensitive Sandhills area of Nebraska. Pipeline operator TransCanada rerouted the pipline, and its plan was approved by Nebraska's governor in January. The State Department on March 1 released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement that, for the fourth time, concluded that Keystone would not have a significant impact on the environment. Five years after the pipeline was proposed, only a portion running from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast is under construction.
I caught up with a few members of Congress on Capitol Hill to ask them about Keystone. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said that she is "disappointed that the president has dragged his feet on this." Chairman of House Committee on Energy and Commerce Fred Upton (R-MI), whose committee is expected to pass a Keystone approval bill this week, called building the pipeline "a no brainer." Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) said that Keystone has "gone through all the reviews it needs to go through."
In his Senate confirmation hearing, Energy Secretary nominee Ernest Moniz called the natural gas boom a “revolution.”
New estimates suggest that it could be a long-lived one. According to a new report by the Potential Gas Committee, the amount of recoverable natural gas in the United States is at a record high, 2.4 quadrillion cubic feet. Fuel Fix breaks this down by region:
The Atlantic region, which includes the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, has the most potential resources, with an estimated 741,320 billion cubic feet. The Gulf Coast region, which includes a portion of Texas, all of Louisiana and much of the Gulf, was the second highest, with an estimated 521,030 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
The Rocky Mountain region and Alaska follow with 421 billion cubic feet and 194 billion cubic feet respectively.
Three cheers to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
According to Graham Kerr, Chief Financial Officer of mining giant BHP Billiton, all this natural gas can be mean an industrial boost for the United States:
“There are always opportunities for exports in the U.S. and Canada, but I think there’s a push and a growth of re- industrialization in the U.S. that will consume a lot of the energy in that country and give them a great opportunity to grow going forward, and we’re well positioned for that,” BHP Chief Financial Officer Graham Kerr said yesterday at the Bloomberg Australia Economic Summit.
Now, just because all this natural gas is recoverable using current technologies, it doesn’t mean we can use it. In recent years, the administration has prevented gas (and oil) development on federal lands. According to the Congressional Research Service, even though natural gas production has increased by 20% since 2007, on federal lands it’s fallen by about 33%. Improving the slow permitting process would help.
To boost the economy and create jobs, let’s make sure we have good policies in place to safely access the abundant natural gas supplies underneath our feet.
One would think that a President harping on building infrastructure and creating jobs would mention a major project in his budget. However, even though President’s budget calls for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, the Keystone XL pipeline is not mentioned.
With the only first of a series of public hearings on the State Department’s latest Keystone XL pipeline Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) scheduled to take place next week in Nebraska, pipeline supporters have ramped up efforts to get this critical project built.
David Mallino of the Laborers International Union of North America pleaded with subcommittee members to support the legislation and “clear away roadblocks” to this project. Mr. Mallino pointed out that this project will provide opportunities for many different craftsmen, and that this pipeline will be built by union members and would result in millions of man hours.
Mallino went on to say, “This project is not just a pipeline; it is, in fact, a lifeline.”
Also at the hearing, Keith Stelter, Co-Owner of Delta Industrial Valves, told committee members, “If the Keystone XL pipeline can be built, I would see my company probably doubling in size over the next 10 years because of the oil sands projects that were cancelled or put ‘on hold’ being brought to life again.”
As we debate in the U.S., Canada isn’t keeping quiet. Alberta Premier Alison Redford visited Washington, DC to talk up the Keystone XL pipeline. In her fourth visit to Washington to sell the pipeline and her province’s environmental record, she warned that a rejection of the pipeline by the administration could hurt U.S.-Canada relations.
The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy added to the discussion by sending comments to the State Department regarding its recent DSEIS that highlight the economic, energy security, and environmental arguments for the pipeline. Here’s a summary:
Keystone XL Means More Jobs
According to the State Department’s estimates, during construction, Keystone XL will create 3,900 construction jobs, and 42,100 direct and indirect jobs. TransCanada will spend $3.3 billion on construction materials for the pipeline. American companies will supply much of this.
In addition, the pipeline will continue the development of Canadian oil sands. With Canada and the United States connected economically, this continued development will support American workers who will supply goods and services to Canadian oil developers.
Finally, we can’t forget the positive impact Keystone XL will have on local communities. Upon completion, TransCanada, owner of the pipeline, will be one of the largest property taxpayers in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and will pay $5.2 billion in property taxes to state and local communities.
Keystone XL Means More Energy Security
The 800,000 barrels per day of oil from Canada’s oil sands means less dependency on areas such as the Middle East and Africa and will move North America closer to energy self sufficiency.
Along with Canadian oil, Keystone XL will move 100,000 barrels per day of oil produced from the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana. This will only fuel (pun intended) the boom happening there.
Keystone XL Has Been Exhaustively Studied
Most of the pipeline has been under environmental review for more than five years. The latest State Department’s latest study, the DSEIS, reaffirms that “there will be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route.”
The Energy Institute notes that a new route avoids Nebraska’s Sandhills region and has earned the approval of Nebraska’s governor and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. It also notes that “public citizens, governments, Tribal governments, and non-governmental organizations have all taken part in the review process.”
We’ve waited long enough. It’s time to build this important piece of energy infrastructure.
How can you help get this job-creating pipeline built? Sign the petition and share it with your friends.
When you're done signing the petition, read this Popular Mechanics on building the pipeline.
Imagine a United States with no operating nuclear plants. Let’s shed some light on this.
Gregory B. Jaczko, former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for President Obama, is calling for the phase out all 104 U.S. nuclear reactors. That would take 19% of the nation’s electricity production offline.
That much generating capacity taken offline would be devastating to the economy. Alternatives would have to be found, but because of this administration’s War on Coal, coal-fired plants wouldn’t be on that list. Wind and solar might help at times, but they cannot substitute for baseload electricity generation. Hydroelectric power isn’t evenly-distributed across the United States and has limited scalability. That leaves reliance on natural gas.
Yes, there’s much to be said about the boom from shale gas. It has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, tens of billions in government revenue and improved American energy security. However, it’s not wise to put all your eggs in one electrical basket. There are infrastructure concerns. In comments to EPA in 2012, the Edison Electric Institute noted that “increased demands on gas pipeline capacity and storage facilities may raise local reliability and related concerns that require greater diversity in electric generation supply.”
Let’s look at New England as a real-world example. The New York Times reports that in 2012, 52% of electricity in the region was produced by natural gas. However, because of a “shortage of natural gas pipeline capacity,” the region is “the most vulnerable now to overreliance on gas.” Jay Apt who runs the Electricity Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon University told the Times:
It is certainly true that a region like New England that relies on a single fuel source like natural gas for the bulk of its power does leave itself open for more disruptions than a region with a more diverse fuel mix. It’s not a knock against natural gas; it’s a knock against a single fuel source.
Reliable electricity needs a variety of fuel sources. Taking an entire category offline, especially an emissions-free and safe source like nuclear, doesn’t make sense.