Many of us might not have heard that since 2008 a Canadian oil company, TransCanada, has been awaiting approval to start construction on an extension project called the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline. This pipeline would extend the companies existing Keystone Pipeline, which currently runs from Alberta, Canada to Cushing, OK, to supply oil to others in Oklahoma and ultimately Port Arthur, TX.
In September of 2008, TransCanada applied to build a new pipeline, the Keystone XL, to bring diluted bitumen from the oil-rich tar sands of Alberta to American refineries on the Gulf Coast, but it has hit nothing but roadblocks.
Hillary Clinton, who has had this project sitting on her desk since she was sworn in, indicated early on that she was inclined to allow it and so it seemed the company would get its permit after a 90-day comment period. But the Environmental Protection Agency had issues with the State Department’s supplemental statement, which took months to prepare. At the end of another 90-day comment period, the EPA stamped the report "inadequate" and sent the State Department a nine-page letter with objections, which would require years of further study.
None of the concerns or issues were lost on the State Department, which must approve the project because it crosses the U.S. border. Its first environmental impact statement, in April 2010, found that the XL would meet industry standards and not significantly affect the environment.
In July 2010, TransCanada began operating its Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma, which is a major storage and pricing depot. The Keystone XL would cut a slightly different path as construction will be done in two parts. The two phases would be the northern segment extending from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska and the southern segment extending from Cushing, OK to Houston and Port Arthur, TX.
TransCanada expected that permitting would take roughly 23 months. Thirty-three months, two State Department studies and 208,000 public comments later, TransCanada is still waiting.
The State of Oklahoma recently sent a letter co-penned by Governor Fallin and Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her support and expeditious approval of the cross-boarder permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This would enable the construction of the section of the line connecting Cushing to the Gulf Coast to begin.
The letter continues on to state what profits are expected to look like for Oklahoma if this “pipe dream” becomes a reality. The construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to build Oklahoma’s economy by adding $1.2 billion in new spending, increase personal income by $874 million, provide additional state and local tax revenues of more than $25 million, and add more than $1 billion in increased Gross State Product.
The proposed Keystone XL could provide a beneficial solution for the United States. The pipeline would be capable of providing the U.S. with an additional 500,000 barrels of crude oil each day. These additional volumes of North American crude are vital, but the pipeline continues to be a job-source in waiting, as well as a tremendous opportunity to increase the supply of American energy.