Enough Stalling on the Keystone XL Pipeline
Around the State
David Manning's story of America's boundless opportunities if only the Obama administration would build the Keystone XL Pipeline was the most underreported story of the 2013 Florida Energy Summit.
Manning, envoy from Alberta, Canada, left many summit participants salivating over what could be.
The massively scrutinized Keystone XL Pipeline, if constructed, would transport heavy crude oil from both Canada’s oil sands region and domestic production to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Science supports the project, so does a bipartisan congressional majority, and organized labor anxiously awaits it. That's not even counting the folks who deal with national energy security.
Most of all, the American people are behind it.
So, why wasn't Manning home with his feet up instead of beating his pipeline drum on the Energy Summit's "Myths and Realities" panel?
Because, despite a 77 percent public approval rating, pipeline opposition wins the war of public perception every day. As Forbes Magazine has shown in a compelling graphic, the environmental community has asserted its digital dominance, using social media to create a deafening pipeline protest, becoming the go-to sources of information when any related news breaks.
The 23 percent of Americans who either oppose or have no opinion about Keystone XL have redefined what it is to be a vocal minority.
This, in spite of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality's estimate that the pipeline would bring $418.1 million in economic benefits and support up to 4,560 new or existing jobs in Nebraska -- where the missing construction phase would begin.
Richard Levick of Forbes writes, "There are even numerous findings that the pipeline will not adversely impact the natural environment or substantially affect the rate of Canadian oil sands development. This summer’s rail disaster in Quebec has even helped cement perceptions that pipelines are the safer, more environmentally-friendly option for transporting oil and gas."
"Alberta, with a population of 12 million in the whole province, is the No. 3 oil producer in the world," Manning told summit participants. "Only 20 percent of the world's oil is free for development and not state-controlled. And 53 percent of that is in Alberta."
He reminded the group that when they invest in Canadian oil, they get money back -- no comparison with other foreign sellers. "For every dollar the U.S. spends on Canadian oil, you get back 90 cents; you get back 33 cents on the dollar from Saudi Arabia, and 46 cents from Venezuela."
Manning said he realizes he's preaching to the choir, that Floridians realize the positive economic impact that the pipelines from Canada have on the Sunshine State, a heavy energy-consuming state that depends on stable supplies of energy sources from other states and abroad. But for that reason, Florida has "incredible opportunities."
According to investment figures from a 2012 study commissioned by the government of Canada, more than 200 Canadian companies have invested $3 billion-plus in Florida, while providing direct employment to more than 26,000 people.
Florida also exports more to Canada ($4 billion in goods and services) than it imports ($3.6 billion in goods and services).
Manning didn't get into tourism numbers, but the fact is, in addition to the trade, some 4 million Canadians visit Florida every year, contributing nearly $4 billion to the Florida economy. That boosts job creation here.
Manning claimed environmental risks are minimal, not only because scientific and engineering studies have said so, but because Canada is a proven responsible partner. "We've been criticized for damage to the earth in our own province, but the footprint of our entire mining area is barely the size of Tampa."
He said, "You can say the goal should be getting off oil, but that's happening." He said Detroit is building more and more efficient engines and oil consumption is dropping in the U.S. annually by billions of gallons.
Kevin Doyle, executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida, the state affiliate of a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, didn't pull any punches in stressing the urgency of the Obama administration's approval of the pipeline.
"It is not a secret that countries such as China and India, whose fast-growing economies are in need of stable supplies of energy, would not hesitate if given the opportunity to access the energy resources of Canada," Doyle said.
"There are many industry leaders who believe that if the Keystone XL Pipeline is not approved by the Obama administration, our allies in Canada may aggressively look at sending their crude oil west to Asia, thus forcing the United States to further depend on imports from less-than-stable areas of the world."
But, what if Canadian crude isn't refined in the most technologically advanced facilities in the world, which are right here in America, but rather in outdated facilities in China and India that have little or no oversight and little or no environmental protections?
"Not only would this potentially harm U.S.-Canada relations, it would also hinder the very emission goals that the president claims he wants to work toward," Doyle said.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.