The United States has been abuzz with activity this past year over the promise that President Obama made concerning pushing forward the Keystone XL project. However, the President is still failing to deliver on any of his promises. What is new are the affects that are taking place on the Canadians. There are currently 3 pipeline projects (Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain Expansion and Keystone XL) that are at the forefront of energy development in Canada.
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association predicts that all three projects combined are worth a staggering $1.298 trillion dollars to the Canadian economy. By allowing Canada’s crude to transport down to the Texas Gulf where it can be refined, Canada expects to bring in about $15.52 billion dollars in additional salaries to its citizens. In addition, the U.S. State Department reported an increase of 42,000 jobs during the construction process, and roughly 118,000 jobs to maintain the pipeline and the refineries.
There are currently four ways that crude oil is being transported in the U.S. and Canada, which are train, truck, pipeline and by ship. Depending on which environmentalist you ask, each mode of transportation is more dangerous than the other. 70 percent of petroleum and crude oil are currently shipped by pipeline, which in recent years has proven to be safer. A recent study by Fraser affirms their safety by reporting pipeline accidents are a staggering 30 times less harmful than by train. Although, an increasing number of transports by rail are creating more harm than good.
At this point, a majority of the holdup seems to come from the upcoming elections and Obama’s reluctance to fulfill his promise. The regional trade partnership that can be gained from the pipeline is very advantageous for the U.S. and can only decrease the overseas dependency on oil. For the good of the environment, Keystone XL should be moved forward. It is imperative that the safer, and cheaper alternative be used.
However, it is also important to note that all of these advantages could be multiplied significantly with a new refinery built in the Gulf Coast. North Dakota is currently building the first oil refinery since 1976 and plans to further decrease the amount of reliance on foreign oil. Just by allowing one small refinery in North Dakota, we would decrease the amount of barrels imported per day by 53,000. A larger, more advanced refinery like the Port Arthur Refinery in Texas has a capacity of 600,000 barrels a day. Combine that with an additional pipeline from Canada, and the amount of economic growth would be tremendous. As of now though, the only thing that can be done is sit around and wait until after the November elections.