The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

February 5, 2014

Approve Keystone pipeline

Why it matters: The United States can continue progress on energy independence by approving a significant energy supply in the Keystone pipeline from Canada

Now that the U.S. State Department has issued its final environmental assessment report of the Keystone XL pipeline and found no significant impact on greenhouse gases, it’s time for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to approve it.

The environmental review on the pipeline has been in the works for five years. State and federal regulators have extensively reviewed the environmental impact and given it passing grades.

In fact, if the pipeline is not approved and built, Canadian companies will simply ship the crude oil by rail, which would increase greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent to 42 percent compared to the pipeline shipments, according to the State Department report.

The report also notes that the Canadian heavy crude supplies will be developed whether or not Keystone is built. So, again, denial by the U.S. will have no impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

The pipeline would increase the supply of gasoline and other products being produced by U.S. refiners in the Gulf Coast. Any increase in supply is likely to have a downward impact on gasoline prices especially at a time when gasoline and oil consumption is moderating in the United States. Obviously the market cannot be predicted with exactitude, but opponents often overlook how lower energy prices can spur economic growth, including many of the green industries and pollution-cutting technologies that opponents of Keystone want to see happen.

There are many economic and environmental reasons to move forward with Keystone. The reasons to halt it seem mostly political.

Opponents say it will increase the level of greenhouse gases. The report by the Obama-led state department says there will be no significant greenhouse gas impact. The opponents have not been able to come up with reasonable economic and environmental arguments, instead they mostly vow to hold vigils and protest pipeline construction holding civil disobedience rallies.

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