Amid Congressional Amendments, Petroleum Institute Promotes Keystone XL

Members of the United States Senate debated 18 amendments yesterday on a bill that would approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The pipeline is intended to transport material from tar sands in Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to the U.S. gulf coast for refinement. Despite congressional votes on the project, it has encountered logistical hurdles, environmental concerns, and unfavorable comments from the White House.

Nonetheless, Cindy Schild, a Senior Manager with the American Petroleum Institute – which largely supports the Keystone XL pipelines’ construction – says the question of jobs has come up repeatedly.

“The construction industry needs temporary jobs in order to get the next one,” says Schild. “That’s the facts. That’s the way their industry is. So it’s a shame that they’ve been minimized in this debate.”

American Petroleum Institute says imports from Canada could reach 4-million barrels per day by 2030 with the pipeline expansion – which is proposed to connect in Steele City, Nebraska.

Decisions on the pipeline stalled earlier this month due to pending litigation in the state of Nebraska. Earlier this month however, the Nebraska Supreme Court removed a legal challenge to the pipeline’s proposed route.

Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline cite environmental harm and potential health hazards. Schild says the pipeline’s environmental impact will be limited.

“The Keystone will not increase greenhouse gas, or exasperate greenhouse gas emissions,” says Schild. “That has been accounted for or disputed very simply and matter of fact by nearly every expert, you can always find an outlier to say something.”

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have called such claims into question, even submitting a request for Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements to the State Department.

The State Department is implementing a deadline for federal agencies to report their findings on the project by early February. Representatives of environmental groups were unavailable for comment.