After nearly three years of gathering input, holding public meetings, and an extensive review, the U.S. State Department recently issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Despite this lengthy and thorough review and the Final EIS, President Obama recently announced that he would not be making a final decision on the pipeline’s future until after the 2012 election. The president’s decision was based purely on political calculations as he risked losing support from two key voting blocs, the anti-pipeline environmentalists, or the pro-pipeline unions.
The benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline are clear. Experts conclude that the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would deliver up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada—an ally of the United States—to Gulf Coast refineries. The $7 billion project is expected to create more than 20,000 direct jobs nationally during the construction phase of the project. In addition to creating jobs, the pipeline would reduce need for foreign oil imports from countries like Venezuela, while strengthening our trade relationship with Canada.
Our state's economy would directly benefit from the pipeline. Keystone XL is expected to produce increased personal income by $319 million, and create hundreds of construction jobs in South Dakota. Further, it is estimated that once the pipeline is operational, South Dakota could see over $600 million in property taxes to county and other local governments during the operating life of the pipeline.
In an effort to move this project forward, I joined with 38 of my Senate colleagues this past week to introduce a bill, the North American Energy Security Act, which would force the president to make a final decision on the pipeline. Specifically, the legislation would require the Secretary of State to issue a permit within 60 days allowing the Keystone XL project to move forward, unless the president publicly determines that it is not in the nation’s interest. I believe this important economic and energy security decision should not be held up by political calculations. The American people deserve an answer now, not after the next election.
Additionally, our legislation would require that the pipeline permit recognize an alternative route that is approved by the state of Nebraska, protecting their ability to shift the route of the pipeline to avoid the Sand Hills, while not holding up construction elsewhere. This common sense approach is supported by Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska.
I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to push this bill through Congress so that we can get Americans back to work and reduce our nation’s dependence on oil from the Middle East.