The controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline is totally artificial, a fabrication of green politics.
Something like 2.5 million miles of oil and gas pipelines already crisscross the lower forty-eight.
How in the world would adding another 875 miles (the orange line in the map below) to that vast network push it over some kind of national interest ‘tipping point,’ endangering the economy or ecology of the U.S.?
The Gulf Coast Project — the green (southern) portion of the proposed 1,200-mile pipeline route from Alberta to Port Arthur — was completed by January 2014. The earth did not shake, the sky didn’t fall, no one felt a “disturbance in the Force . . . as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” So how would adding the shorter orange segment lead to disaster?
EPA has repeatedly challenged State Department assessments of Keystone XL as environmentally benign. Yet EPA’s newly-proposed rule for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants depicts pipelines as ho-hum, mundane, infrastructure projects.
One of the main strategies EPA recommends for states to reduce CO2 emissions is to increase base load generation from natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants while decreasing generation from coal power plants. That, of course, will increase demand for gas, which is transported by pipeline. No worries, says, EPA, “Natural gas pipeline capacity has regularly been added in response to increased gas demand and supply. . .” (p. 182). Indeed, “There have been notable pipeline capacity expansions over the past five years, and substantial additional pipeline expansions are currently under construction” (p. 183).
How much, exactly? According to EPA, citing U.S. Energy Information data, between 2010 and April 2014, 4,699 miles of new pipe were placed in service, and between April 2014 and 2016 an additional 1,567 miles of pipe are scheduled for completion. That’s more than seven times the mileage of the proposed KXL pipeline.
Oil and gas pipelines are wonders of modern engineering. They support the national interest in affordable energy, efficient transport, and a competitive economy.
If Keystone XL differs in any important respect from the rest of the vast network of which it would be a tiny part, it is in the numerous additional safeguards its owners have committed to install.