On September 19, 2008, the TransCanada Corporation submitted its application to the U.S. Department of State to proceed with the construction of a $7 billion private infrastructure project designed to carry up to 830,000 barrels of petroleum per day from western Canada’s oil sands of the Boreal forests to oil refineries and ports along the Gulf Coast of the United States.1,2 Roughly half of the system is already built from Alberta through North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.2 The Keystone XL Pipeline is a shortcut that would start in Hardisty, Alberta, diagonally bisect Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and connect Steele City, Nebraska with existing pipelines to the Gulf Coast.2
Bipartisan legislation approving the permit to construct a 1,179-mile addition to the pipeline, known as the Keystone XL, was vetoed by President Obama in February 2015.2,3 This was the first time a U.S. administration had prohibited the cross-border construction of a major oil pipeline, even though U.S. regulators approved two very similar cross-border pipelines in the past decade that transport exactly the same type of oil.3
Proponents of the Keystone Pipeline argue that the addition of petroleum reserves from Canada would increase U.S. energy independence, create thousands of long-term jobs, and prevent China from siphoning oil away from North America. Arguments opposing the construction of the pipeline are predominantly environmental in nature, raising concerns of potential environmental disasters which could be created by leaks in the pipeline, to include contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer. Additionally, the pipeline could be viewed as a very lucrative target for terrorists.
Keystone XL Pipeline
Should the federal government approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline?