In the same amount of time that the Keystone XL pipeline application has been under review by the Obama administration, the Hoover Dam, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Empire State Building were built — a clear indicator of how cumbersome and political today’s permitting process has become.
After more than five years, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is still largely just a plan and not a completed part of our critical infrastructure system.
Though Keystone XL cleared a significant hurdle — again — on Jan. 31 when the State Department issued a positive environmental impact statement, the wait is not over. The project now shifts into a subjective phase of review during which the administration determines whether building the pipeline is in the national interest. But the administration refuses to give a timeline on when the decision will actually be made.
More than 70 percent of Americans aren’t sitting around and wondering. They already know that the Keystone XL pipeline is in the best interest of the nation. There is no justification for further delay.
For starters, Keystone XL would add stable energy from a reliable source to our supply — safely and efficiently. The State Department has studied the project for 1,960 days and issued five reports, reaching the conclusion that the pipeline poses minimal environmental risk. Moreover, though many activists believe that blocking Keystone XL will halt development of oil sands, the department’s analysis makes it clear that Canada will develop those resources with or without the pipeline; the country will simply ship them using different modes of transportation and to other countries.
The Keystone XL pipeline would not only transport fuel safely, but it would boost economic activity along the way. Building the pipeline would create more than 42,000 new jobs while adding $3.4 billion to the economy. The pipeline would generate more than $5.2 billion in property taxes for communities on the route, pumping cash into state and city coffers for schools, law enforcement and local projects.
Finally, the administration’s continued delays send a signal to companies around the world. Do we want to show international investors that America is open for business and a welcome place for their job-creating investments? Or do we want to send the message that they’re better off doing business elsewhere?
As we enter the next phase of review, the public will have an opportunity to make their views known — but then the dillydalling must stop. The Keystone XL pipeline is clearly in the national interest. Let’s make it a great American success story, not a cautionary tale of missed opportunity.
— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.