Columns

One More Time: Why Florida Needs the Keystone Pipeline

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: May 5, 2014 3:55 AM

 

Keystone XL Pipeline

An underreported story in the Capitol last week was Tuesday's rotunda press conference supporting the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Bad timing, maybe, but there was good reason to give the issue special attention at the center of state government, in perhaps the most critical week of the legislative session.

The pipeline isn't just a federal issue. It is vitally important for Florida. The quality of Florida's future depends on it.

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith

I've written a lot of stories on the pipeline -- on its benefit to the nation, on the 59 additional safety measures beyond the ones required by federal law, on the five separate environmental reviews that certified the pipeline would have minimal effect on the environment.

I've provided all kinds of facts and figures to show why the White House should end the delay and approve construction of the 2,151-mile pipeline. But I have never written about Florida's stake in all this and why Floridians should care.

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

After the press conference at the Capitol last week, I got a chance to talk with Kevin Doyle specifically about the pipeline and Florida.

Doyle, executive director of Jacksonville-based Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida (CEA),  the state affiliate of a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, makes it his business to study the Florida economy and what makes it work. Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the board of directors for Workforce Florida and in 2013 Doyle was promoted to vice chairman of the Performance Council. That allows him to serve as a member of the Workforce Florida Executive Committee. 

Doyle insists Floridians do care and have shown it.

“It may not get the publicity it deserves," he told me, "but what CEA and Associated Industries of Florida did is work together to submit to Washington more than 24,000 comments from Floridians who support the pipeline. Floridians have clearly said to the administration -- 'we need jobs, we need a stronger economy, and we need to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.'”

Doyle said, "Even (Florida Sen.) Bill Nelson, a Democrat, recognizes what it means to our state. Last year he signed an amendment attached to a budget amendment in favor of the pipeline.

"It passed the Senate 60-37 -- the Senate, where Democrats dominate and generally support White House policy. On this issue, they clearly don't."

But, just three days ago Politico reported Nelson has flip-flopped, now saying he can't vote for the pipeline because there's no provision in the bill to ban exporting the oil.

Here's why Doyle calls the Keystone XL Pipeline "a Sunshine State priority" and why he called last week's press conference: 

Getting here, leaving here

No wonder in the ranking of the most petroleum consumptive states, Florida is third behind Texas and California.

The Sunshine State plain isn't the travel dawdle No. 50 Connecticut is. Miami to Pensacola takes a day's car ride and a minimum of two fill-ups. Electing to fly, now with fuel surcharges built in, plane tickets that were $200 at the end of the last century are $400 or more today.

"No state is as reliant on tourism as we are," Doyle said. "It's a huge part of our economic engine. And gas prices affect every sector of the Florida economy, but none more than tourism. All kinds of related businesses, from hotels and restaurants to boating and fishing ... they not only have to keep their doors open, they have to be competitive with other tourist destinations.

"Gas prices are shooting up again," Doyle explained. "Pipeline gas will help reduce and stabilize Florida prices. Right now we're utterly dependent on Venezuelan and Middle Eastern oil."

Gulf Coast refiners will turn Canada crude into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, propane and kerosene.

Florida's military presence

There are 21 military bases in Florida, almost all of them in coastal zones and heavily reliant on petroleum products. Consider that the U.S. Department of Defense is the largest oil-consuming government body in the U.S. and in the world.

Not only is our national defense predicated on a ready domestic oil supply, the girth of the state's military presence down the road greatly depends on fuel prices.

"Petroleum, natural gas, renewables -- they're important, all of them," said Doyle. "But right now we have do what we can as fast as we can to protect the interests of the Sunshine State and the military presence we rely on. Every dime more the government has to pay for oil is something Congress is under pressure to take away from the military, to balance it out. Florida can't afford to risk losing any of its military bases."

Our Canadian friends

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).

In addition to trade, some 4 million Canadians visit Florida every year, contributing nearly $4 billion to the state economy. That boosts job creation here. In fact, Miami-based Beth Richardson, head of the Political, Economic and Public Affairs Section, Consulate General of Canada, addressed the press conference gathering last week.

I asked Doyle what more we in Florida can do to help convince President Obama to move ahead with the Keystone XL Pipeline.

"I think things like (Rep.) Mike Hill did, sponsoring HM 281, the Memorial that passed the Florida House, and then passed the Florida Senate -- that's going to send a message to Washington that the White House needs to put politics aside and end the construction delay," he said. "What would also help is if more of us sent letters to Washington. All I can say is, this is huge.

"The pipeline means $20 billion in new economic growth for the U.S. economy and 42,000 jobs -- apart from the 9,000 construction jobs -- and we believe Florida will see a fair percentage of that."

The Keystone XL Pipeline isn't just about Canada and Nebraska and Washington. It's about 19 million Floridians, citizens of the third largest state in the country, who deserve a government that acts responsibly and looks out for their quality of life -- not for its own political games.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. 


Comments (10)

Robert Ares
12:29PM MAY 7TH 2014
What "The Sunshine State"... really Needs are SOLAR POWER collectors on residential rooftops incentivized by Florida Government !

Kevin Doyle is a Washington based Energy lobbyist and Rick Scott appointed to the board of directors of Workforce Florida

He is a Partner of Wexford Strategies, a government affairs Lobbying firm which has offices in Washington, DC and Jacksonville, Florida. We believe he has received Koch Oil funding.
DJ Prophet
7:31AM MAY 6TH 2014
Environmentalists' One-Dimensional Strategy of 'No'
By: NANCY SMITH | Posted: May 6, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ
If environmental groups have learned anything over the last 100 years, it's that they're more effective stopping things than making things happen.

They either have to stop something from being built or shut it down. That's what they do. That's all they do.
DJ Prophet
7:27AM MAY 6TH 2014
Blah Blah Blah. This is a most biased and blatent support article for the Pipeline to be built and does not even entertain "The other side to the Story"

This is exactly what "Main Stream Media" is about!!!
Jan Freed
2:36PM MAY 5TH 2014
There are many good reasons to say "no" to Keystone.
.
It will not create the jobs claimed* for it, nor will it reduce prices at the pump. In fact, prices may go up as domestic oil finds easier ways overseas.
.
It threatens drinking water supplies.
.
But most importantly, the IEA estimates that Keystone could harvest 3 times the carbon that would take us over 2 degrees C, the absolute limit for a catastrophe we might survive, if we're lucky. And other carbon projects are in the wings, taking us up to +6 deg. C, with "massive climate change and irreparable damage" How reckless can we be?

We are warned of this climate abyss by our most trusted messengers, such as NOAA, NASA, every scientific academy, such as the Royal Academy of UK (SIr Isaac Newton was president), the National Academy of Sciences (Einstein was a member), the very conservative World Bank, fact-checked by National Geographic, Scientific American.
.
We are told of current disastrous health effects by the 
American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization and the AMA.
.
We cannot rely on State Department assessments, if made by employees of the carbon industries.
.
And Keystone could eventually strip forests the size of Florida, forests that might have absorbed enormous quantities of CO2 before they were removed as "overburden".
.
Would Keystone "replace" those forests? They've said they would make good any future
 damage. Laughable.
.
Even 2 degrees itself may be too high - a "prescription for disaster"
says Dr. James Hansen, chief climatologist at NASA (ret.), one who, early on, predicted many of the catastrophic effects that we have seen.
.
Many of us know the bitter taste of the weird weather out there, with just current warming of .8 deg C.
.
Shall we roll the dice for our kids and grand kids, saying "let it ride!" beyond 2 degrees and more? More, and we might invite abrupt, irreversible changes.
.
No, taking your kids to to soccer practice or Disney World does not make up for that.
.
With its high risks and low return, Keystone XL is not a smart gamble. Better is a price on carbon pollution that will boost sustainable energy (and hybrids) and a rebate check to citizens. . Or the DOD building 50GW of wind/solar, returning revenues to taxpayers.

. *A recent State Dept. study said the construction workforce would be 5,000 to 6,000 workers. And once the construction phase ends, almost all of these jobs, however many are created, would go away.
concerned citizen
12:08PM MAY 5TH 2014
We need to expand solar energy. Remember we do live in the SUNSHINE STATE. If Germany and other areas can invest in solar, we should do. States not being proactive on this topic will be left behind. Florida should get on board and realize solar is free energy and support it.
Freeman
11:54AM MAY 5TH 2014
And XL benefits florida citizen exactly how,? Just shows oil company's own the Republican Party ,,,
Ralph
9:51AM MAY 5TH 2014
Dear gentle Nancy: "to the hammer, all the worlds a nail."

This article, as most I've read from you, goes to great lengths to start from your point of view, then find sources to corroborate your point.

Petroleum products are priced on the global market. We take on all the environmental RISK without the price benefit. Naive readers believe US oil is sold to US markets or EXXON-Mobile wouldn't sell at the highest global price. Their sole purpose is to enrich themselves, not provide cheap products to the American public.

As to jobs: We should set out to construct a water pipeline from East to West instead. Employ tens of thousands to send water from our overly hydrated East Coast to our drought-stricken stares to the west.

Why I'm so opposed: There's 1960s technology in place to clean up "normal" oil spills and big oil just doesn't give a damn to invest in clean up - they get a proverbial slap on the wrist with a pittance of a fine when they do screwup the environment. There is no plan for cleaning up toxic car sludge. Do you really want to be the cheerleader that Rah Rahs the gutting of our country from north to south and leaving a toxic wasteland? And what about all the earthquakes affecting that pipeline given the other addiction we have: fracking?

Republicans and corporate Senate Democrats are in the pocket of big oil. It's not common sense the compells their vote. It's money and profit. It's that simple.
LDouglas
8:34AM MAY 5TH 2014
"What would also help is if more of us sent letters to Washington."

Letters do make a difference. And as someone on more than a few environmental groups action list, I assure you, there are plenty being sent in opposition. (Though I have been, and will continue to sit this one out.)
Mark
7:19AM MAY 5TH 2014
Excellant article (again) covering the Keystone Pipeline. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama is acting more like a Keystone cop, than as a concerned President, especially considering the very negative effect we in Florida and many other states we are facing at the pumps! Just about the only good news is that the Democratically controlled Senate supports this project which I had hoped would send a message to Mr. Obama. Clearly, it hasn't. Whomever is advising Obama on this project is obviously uninformed and behind the times when it comes to realizing the overpowering benefits which would come from the completion of Keystone! Perhaps, Nancy, the people of this state could begin a letter/email campaign to Mr. Obama insisting he sign approval of this project and begin to revitalize this country's economics. Maybe if his staff were to begin receiving additional messages to the point they'd have additional WORK to do the message would actually reach Mr. Obama. I believe it's time to start the pressure for something good to begin?
DJ Prophet
7:46AM MAY 6TH 2014
Mark. Please learn how to spell.

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