Stop obstructing Canadian oil from flowing to US

What if there was a way President Barack Obama could create more than 100,000 jobs, reduce the price of gasoline at the pump and reduce our dependence on foreign oil — all at zero cost to taxpayers? Any president would jump at the chance, right? Not Obama. It has been 33 months since TransCanada filed for a permit from the State Department to begin construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline. They are still awaiting final agency decision.

Normally, energy companies do not need to win State Department approval for pipeline construction, but the 1,700-mile Keystone XL project would carry about 700,000 barrels of oil a day — or 255.5 million barrels a year — from Alberta, Canada, across the U.S. border, and then south all the way to the Gulf Coast. To put that in perspective, Obama recently released 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over a period of 30 days.

The Keystone project would also create 7,000 manufacturing jobs, 13,000 construction jobs and 118,000 spin-off jobs related to the design and management of the pipeline, all in the United States. With unemployment at 9.2 percent, why hasn’t this project been put on the fast track?

The Sierra Club bitterly opposes Keystone because Alberta’s oil riches come in the form of bituminous sands, more commonly known as oil sands, from which it is more difficult to extract usable energy. Friends of the Earth also claims that tar sands oil production emits three times more greenhouse gas than the average barrel of conventional oil consumed in the United States. So these and other environmental groups are applying tremendous pressure to kill the project.

The State Department has final say on issuing the Keystone permit, but the National Environmental Policy Act gives the EPA virtual veto power over the process. The State Department has issued two NEPA-required Environmental Impact Statements so far — both in support of issuing the Keystone permit — and both times the EPA has objected, claiming the studies were inadequate. The State Department will release a final EIS next month.

The House on Tuesday approved the North American-Made Energy Security Act, which requires Obama to issue a final order, granting or denying the Keystone permit by Nov. 1.

Even if the president approves the project, environmentalists’ attorneys will challenge the permit in federal court.

Anybody who wonders why energy costs are rising in America should look first at the many ways that consumer-friendly projects like Keystone XL are being obstructed and blocked.

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