Opinion Pieces

Chabot: Act now on Keystone Pipeline

Washington, D.C., July 13, 2013 | comments
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The Keystone Pipeline has been immersed in bureaucratic red tape for over 1,700 days. Now is the time to act.
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Keystone XL pipeline

"Act soon on the Keystone Pipeline ... before it's too late."

That’s the message – loud and clear – from Canadian officials to Congress, a message we should heed.

The Keystone Pipeline has been immersed in bureaucratic red tape for over 1,700 days. The longer we let it flounder, the more we risk losing the pipeline and its considerable benefits to us nationally and right here in Cincinnati – a result that should concern us all.

Nationally, the Keystone Pipeline will significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil from volatile countries like Venezuela and other OPEC nations. According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, 830,000 barrels of oil a day – approximately half the amount we import from the Middle East – could be pumped to the U.S. through the pipeline. Buying more oil from an established ally, like Canada, will help stabilize our energy prices and supply, as well as enhance our national security.

The pipeline will also boost job creation and economic development. Although estimates vary, the company building the pipeline anticipates as many as 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs will be created due to the pipeline’s construction. And some of those jobs will likely be here in Cincinnati, where Siemens employs hundreds at its Norwood plant to manufacture electric motors for the pipeline.

The project also presents an opportunity to expand our exports, because Canada, unlike most other oil-producing nations, actually buys our goods. In fact, Canada, our largest trading partner, spends roughly 90 cents on U.S. products for every dollar’s worth of goods we import from Canada – one of our largest returns from any major partner.

Locally, this relationship has a significant impact. In 2011, Ohio exported $18.7 billion in goods – including $4.2 billion from the Cincinnati area – to Canada, representing 40 percent of all exports from Ohio. There are an estimated 300,000 jobs in Ohio dependent upon trade with Canada, including more than 31,000 in Hamilton County.

The pipeline is too vital to our local, state and national interests to let it slip away. Yet that appears to be what the Obama administration is poised to do.

The Canadian officials with whom my staff and I recently met have stressed that, despite their enthusiasm for the Keystone Pipeline, they may have to reconsider their options if the U.S. does not act soon.

One potential option would be to reroute the pipeline to Canada’s west coast and sell their oil to China and other Asian countries. This would be an extremely disappointing development.

Unfortunately, it does not appear as if the Obama administration is any closer to approving the project now than they were last year, or the year before that.

In his recent energy policy speech, President Obama placed new roadblocks in the way of the pipeline’s approval. Although some observers believe President Obama’s comments indicate the pipeline will be approved eventually, I worry it is just another stalling tactic.

With all that is at stake nationally and locally, can we really afford to delay this project any longer?

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