ICYMI: Rep. Smith Op-Ed in The Hill: After years of review, it’s time to move forward on Keystone XL

Mar 30, 2017 Issues: Economy, Energy, Rural Development

Rep. Smith Op-Ed in The Hill
After years of review, it’s time to move forward on Keystone XL

Our daily lives are entirely dependent on access to reliable, affordable energy. The Keystone XL pipeline is a piece in the overall energy puzzle, but for too many years, unscientific delays have prevented its construction. Now, President Trump has given a long-awaited green light from the executive branch.

In Nebraska, more than 20,000 miles of pipelines carry liquid and natural gas across our state. Since 2010, the original Keystone pipeline has run through Nebraska and five other states on a route from Alberta, Canada, to Illinois. As the same company works to build the Keystone XL extension, the issue has become severely politicized.

Despite misinformation, important efforts have been made to bring people together around this project. Keystone XL’s proposed route was altered a few years ago in response to Nebraskans’ concerns. This week, we learned 200 more miles of U.S.-made steel will be used in its construction.

Keystone XL continues to receive bipartisan backing – and the support of a majority of Nebraskans, including landowners on the route – due to the need for long-term energy solutions to meet growing demand.

We live in an uncertain world, and most Americans across the political spectrum agree with the need to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Keystone XL provides a great opportunity to work with Canada, our top trading partner and neighbor, to utilize more of our countries’ oil reserves. In fact, the extension is expected to transport up to 830,000 more barrels of North American oil each day.

It is a boost to America’s economy for this oil to be refined in our country rather than being shipped to China or elsewhere around the world.

Achieving American energy independence requires us to diversify our fuel sources.

Petroleum remains a significant part of our energy portfolio. At the same time, I am also a long-time supporter of renewable fuels and have introduced a bill to allow the sale of E15 year-round. It is in our best interest to utilize the many innovations and technologies available to us, from Keystone XL to blender pumps to economically-competitive wind and solar, to help bring down energy prices for American families while enhancing our national security.

With today’s technology, I firmly believe we can simultaneously transport oil and protect our environment. President Obama spent years delaying Keystone XL for political reasons, despite studies by his own State Department finding it to be safe.

Retired research hydrogeologist James Goeke from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln wrote a piece for The New York Times in 2011 in which he concluded Keystone XL poses “minimal risk” to the Ogallala aquifer and urged its approval.

We can either continue to reject sound science and single out this pipeline from the more than 2.4 million miles of pipe already transporting energy in the United States, or we can finally put a stop to the unnecessary delays and make this important investment in our energy future.

Many Americans, including President Trump, have talked extensively about investing in our country’s infrastructure. There are also concerns about how to pay for it. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, an additional $2 trillion in investment will be needed by 2025 to get our infrastructure to “a state of good repair.” Infrastructure is a key responsibility of government, but the public sector cannot and should not fill this funding gap alone.

Keystone XL is a positive example of the private infrastructure investment we should be cultivating. Delaying these projects only drives up costs and dissuades other private-sector investors. When it comes to the long-term maintenance of our nation’s infrastructure, it is better to move oil safely through dedicated pipelines than to increase surface transport demand on roads and rails, which have higher spill rates.  

Years of debate and study have led to one conclusion – Keystone XL is a safe and beneficial infrastructure investment. With the Trump administration issuing a presidential permit for the project, our country is now a step closer to a stronger energy future.

Smith represents Nebraska’s 3rd District and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Click here to read Rep. Smith’s op-ed online at The Hill.