Skip to main content

Keystone XL pipeline makes sense

By Alexander Pourbaix
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1837 GMT (0237 HKT)
Union members clashed with Keystone opponents at a pipeline hearing in April 2013, in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Union members clashed with Keystone opponents at a pipeline hearing in April 2013, in Grand Island, Nebraska.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alexander Pourbaix says opponents are wrong on Keystone XL pipeline
  • He says contrary to what opponents say, "not a drop" of Keystone oil will be exported
  • Pourbaix: State Department study has debunked concerns over environment and market
  • He says during transition to new energy sources, U.S. should get its oil from a trusted nation

Editor's note: Alexander J. Pourbaix is executive vice president and president of development at TransCanada Corp., the operator behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

(CNN) -- Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would move crude oil from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast if approved by President Barack Obama, has long relied on questionable information about our project and the Canadian oil sands.

A CNN op-ed by Tom Steyer has made some claims that need to be disputed. He and other opponents insist oil transported by Keystone XL is destined for export. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality, as TransCanada Corp. CEO Russ Girling has said, is not a drop of the oil transported through Keystone would be exported -- period.

Alexander Pourbaix
Alexander Pourbaix

When he was asked at a news conference whether Keystone oil would be exported, Girling said: "Not a chance. Not in my lifetime. I have talked to every one of our customers, both producers and refiners, I've asked them the question again: 'Do you have any intent of shipping any of this crude oil offshore?' And the answer is absolutely not."

Opponents also say the pipeline is not safe for the environment, but the undeniable reality is the science demonstrating Keystone XL is a safe and environmentally responsible project.

The State Department's final supplemental environmental impact statement is a culmination of more than five years and contains 20,000 pages of analysis, with input from more than two dozen state and federal agencies. The environmental and market issues have been exhaustively reviewed and concerns debunked.

The impact statement explicitly states that building Keystone XL is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios.

Ruling jeopardizes Keystone pipeline
Should we build the Keystone Pipeline?
Report: Pipeline won't impact climate

Nor will Keystone XL affect "the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States ..." And when it comes to producing heavy crude, the State Department impact statement recognizes that only oil sands production trends downward on carbon intensity.

Canada emits just 2% of global greenhouse gases, and the emissions from oil sands contribute 0.16% to global emissions. For context, three coal-fired power plants in the United States emit more greenhouse gases than the entire oil sands industry.

With regard to rail, the impact statement was abundantly clear that the expansion of rail facilities will be able to transport the capacity of Keystone XL and then some. Nearly 1.2 million barrels per day of rail loading capacity, about 1.5 times the size of Keystone XL, will be available to move Canadian crude oil to markets by the end of 2015.

The latest U.S. Energy Information Agency energy forecast shows the United States will import millions of barrels of oil for decades during its transition to a lower carbon future. The responsible thing to do for the environment, the economy and the public is to build the safest, most efficient infrastructure to transport it.

At TransCanada, we're investing billions of dollars in renewable and emission-less energy sources in North America, including wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power to bring clean energy to millions of homes across the continent. We're also focused on upgrading U.S. energy infrastructure so that during the transition, the United States can get more of its oil from a trusted ally: Canada.

That's the responsible path forward and why Keystone XL continues to enjoy strong public, congressional, labor and business support -- and why this project continues to be in the United States' national interest.

We urge Obama to give a green light to the Keystone.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alexander J. Pourbaix.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
As a woman whose parents had cancer, I have quite a few things to say about dying with dignity.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
David Gergen says he'll have a special eye on a few particular races in Tuesday's midterms that may tell us about our long-term future.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
What's behind the uptick in clown sightings? And why the fascination with them? It could be about the economy.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
Midterm elections don't usually have the same excitement as presidential elections. That should change, writes Sally Kohn.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1832 GMT (0232 HKT)
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2103 GMT (0503 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2125 GMT (0525 HKT)
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
ADVERTISEMENT