Friend Canada owed answer on oil pipeline

President Obama told the National Governors Association this week that his long-awaited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline could come in a couple of months.

The $5.3 billion pipeline — first proposed in 2008 — would cross the border from Canada, connect with existing pipelines in the Midwest, and eventually move about 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.

In 2011 the U.S. State Department called the pipeline the “preferred alternative.” But under pressure from environmental groups, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered more study, which also conveniently pushed any decision past the 2012 election.

Well, the election is long over. Obama won. And it’s past time for a decision. Here are some reasons the president should approve it:

• The State Department’s latest review of the project, released in January, found the pipeline would not have a significant effect on global warming.

• Rejecting a pipeline will not stop Canada from extracting a valuable natural resource. The oil will be processed and consumed somewhere. If the United States is interested in regional energy independence, the pipeline is a huge step toward that goal.

• Canadian officials say most of the Keystone XL oil would be for U.S. consumption, with a small portion — mainly diesel — going to other markets.

• The pipeline will provide oil from a stable, reliable, adjacent and friendly source. It will not require overseas shipment from distant and politically unstable nations, some of which don’t even pretend to like the United States.

• Even without Keystone XL, Canada will move some of its oil through the United States on trains and trucks, a far more dangerous and carbon-exhaust-producing method than a pipeline. It also could decide to build a pipeline to its Pacific coast and ship the crude to willing Asian markets.

• It will create jobs: 42,100 in construction-related jobs alone, according to the State Department. And it’s probably as close to “shovel-ready” as you can get.

• Canada is one of the United States’ best allies. It takes our side during conflicts. It is not an open highway for drug traffic; in fact, during discussions on border problems it is rarely mentioned. It has earned our cooperation in a project that ultimately will benefit both nations.

Some opponents seem to be hanging onto the pipe dream that stopping Keystone XL will somehow boost the nascent renewable energy industry, but like it or not the United States remains reliant on oil and will for decades.

Canada is a giant, quiet and steadfast friend. Yes or no, it is owed an answer on the pipeline. Yes would be the better answer for the United States.

— Albuquerque Journal