Time To Build

It’s been over six years, or 2,303 days, since the application to construct the Keystone XL pipeline was submitted for a presidential permit. In the time elapsed, this project has become the most studied pipeline in human history, with more than 22,000 pages of environmental review completed.

Yet with the U.S. House set to vote in favor of approving Keystone XL for the 10th time, and the U.S. Senate preparing to do so for the first time, the President announced this week he plans to veto this critical piece of transportation infrastructure, which will contribute thousands of jobs to the national economy and further our push toward national energy security.

Prior to my time in Congress, I served as an energy regulator in North Dakota. In the fall 2006, I and my colleagues were presented with the original Keystone pipeline project. A green field pipeline, running through over 200 miles within my state, it involved over eight counties, multiple aquifers and state forests, and some of the most productive farmland in the world. Even though over 600 landowners were affected by the project, condemnation proceedings were never required. Now in operation since 2010, the pipeline successfully delivers over half a million barrels of crude per day.

I toured the original Keystone during construction, and met many of the men and women who were grateful for the good paying jobs building the pipeline, and many local restaurant and hotel proprietors, retailers, and subcontractors who were happy to have work and business. The local officials and school administrators are grateful for the tax revenue that would not be there but for the Keystone pipeline. President Obama’s endless delays are preventing this economic activity from occurring along the entire route of the Keystone XL.

But the benefits of this project go far beyond the construction itself. The ongoing drop in oil prices is a clear demonstration of how vulnerable we still are to geopolitical events outside of our control. Keystone XL represents an opportunity for the United States to take more control of the oil market and become more of a price maker rather than the price taker, stabilizing prices at an appropriate level so we are less susceptible to what the nations of OPEC want the price to be.

According to the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the President’s own State Department, constructing Keystone XL would support approximately 42,100 jobs and $2 billion in earnings throughout the United States. As the President continues to delay this project, he is turning down those jobs and economic benefits, and putting national energy security further out of reach.

— Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

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