The 1,300-mile Keystone pipeline transports crude oil from Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma. TransCanada wants to expand the pipeline's capacity, and extend it to Gulf Coast. This requires approval from the U.S. State Department, which has been dragging its feet.
Keep in mind that approval was first requested three years ago, during the Bush administration, according to the Houston Chronicle. The paper also explained: "The $13 billion project would let up to 1.29 million barrels of oil sands crude flow into Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries - a 700,000 barrel-per-day increase over existing capacity."
The benefits from such a massive investment are clear, including, as estimated by the Canadian Economic Research Institute, a $521 billion boost over 25 years in U.S. GDP and growth in U.S. jobs from 21,000 jobs in 2010 to 465,000 jobs in 2035.
API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin observed: "Adding Canada's oil sands resources to U.S. reserves, North America is now the strongest growing non-OPEC region for oil production. It's puzzling, therefore to see our government urging OPEC to produce more crude and tapping our emergency supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while delaying this critical pipeline."
On July 26, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the North American Made Energy Security (NAMES) Act (H.R. 1938), which would impose a decision deadline on the administration, by a bipartisan vote of 279-147. Forty-seven Democrats joined Republicans in approving the measure, with only three GOPers voting against.
In a press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Terry Lee (R-NE), who sponsored the legislation, it also was noted, "In June, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Laborers' International Union of North America, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada wrote a letter urging the passage of the bill."
Approval of the Keystone pipeline expansion makes sense from a U.S. energy perspective, with Republicans, Democrats, business and labor unions in support. It's time for the Obama administration to give approval.
Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.