First approved in Montana in 2012, the Keystone XL pipeline continues to face obstacles greater than those attributed to the regulatory framework intended to safeguard the environment.
The business of stopping infrastructure and development projects has become just that; a business. More than an environmental movement, pipeline activism has become an industry of conflict. Built on false narratives, misinformation, and fear-mongering, the conflict industry exists to promote political goals and influence public policy.
Less addressed when rebutting the claims made by those which seek to stop pipeline projects, is the humanitarian impact these protests are poised to have abroad.
While we continue to import foreign fuels from hostile nations, our geopolitical influence has been strengthened around the globe because of our increased self-sufficiency with respect to crude oil and natural gas production. The more self-sufficient North America can become, the less we will have to depend on foreign imports from countries which do not respect human rights.
Projections on the future demand of oil and natural gas around the world continue to grow, as 1.3. billion people in the world are still without reliable forms of energy. Fossil fuels will be necessary long into the future, as renewables continue to grapple with intermittency and cost hang-ups.
The choice between renewables and non-renewables is a false choice. A more realistic choice, and one social justice warriors and those swayed by flashy anti-fossil fuel campaigns should consider, is whether we want to import energy from hostile nations, or trusted, North American trade partners.
Canadian oil is ethical oil. That which is produced safely and under strict environmental regulations by a country which recognizes human dignity. The same cannot said of many OPEC countries, Venezuela, or the Gulf States; all large exporters of oil to the U.S. Organizations like Vets for Energy exist to promote the domestic production of oil and natural gas to lessen our dependence on nations which harbor terrorism.
The U.S. boasts the largest pipeline network in the world, however, the majority of pipe in the ground today was laid in the 1950’s. Consider the technological advancements and regulatory changes that have been made in every sector over the last sixty years. Pipeline operators are now capable of 24/7, realtime monitoring to detect and respond to potential incidents immediately.
Moving 830,000 barrels of oil a day, with an on-ramp to accept up to 100,000 barrels of Bakken crude, the Keystone XL pipeline will replace 4,150 tanker trucks, or 1,185 rail cars, a day. According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, pipelines are 451 times safer than rail on a per-mile basis, with a 99.999% success rate of delivering crude safely to its destination without incident.
The world will continue to run on oil long into the future. But protests may impede domestic production of affordable, reliable energy sources if the public and policy makers are misinformed. The impact of decisions which thwart production on North American soil could mean dire consequences abroad.
Support for the Keystone XL pipeline is support for North American energy independence and ethical oil.
Alan Olsen is executive
director of the Montana