Keystone XL Pipeline: Major Topic in the 2012 US Presidential Election
As the 2012 U.S. presidential race heats up, the debate over the respective energy plans of President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney has intensified, directing attention to the Keystone XL Pipeline. The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would begin in Alberta’s oil sands region and carry crude oil through the Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico, becoming the largest pipeline in North America.
Romney has made the Keystone XL Pipeline a key component of his energy platform calling for North American energy independence by 2020. He predicts that the pipeline would generate an additional 20,000 jobs in the areas around the pipeline and stimulate the U.S. economy by billions. Romney identifies the Keystone XL Pipeline as an added opportunity to lower gas prices at the pump.
President Obama supports the benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline; however, wants to ensure all health and safety measures around pipeline construction and maintenance are taken to reduce potential environmental risks. The president has emphasized the need for regulatory enforcement by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Pipelines and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure the pipeline is built and monitored safely.
On Friday, July 27, 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers granted the final permit for the southern portion of the pipeline. This portion of the pipeline construction is forecasted to create 4,000 jobs and generate millions in property taxes for surrounding counties in Oklahoma and Texas. A decision is expected to be made on the northern section of the pipeline in the upcoming months.
The Keystone XL Pipeline presents a strong example of the accord needed between energy security, environmental preservation and risk aversion. These three elements will continue to play a substantial role in the upcoming presidential election as the discussion regarding U.S. energy independence further develops.