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Battle over Keystone XL Oil Pipeline's impact

November 1, 2011 4:23:53 PM PDT
The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline could have an incredible impact on the economy here in Houston.This pipeline is no small deal. The Obama administration has been studying this project for three years and appears very close to a decision, possibly by the end of the year. It's a huge international project that would ferry oil 1,700 miles from the Canadian Oil Sands to Houston's refineries.

The Texas congressional delegation largely supports it, as does the Greater Houston Partnership, but President Barack Obama is under huge pressure from environmentalists around the country to say no.

The Canadian Oil Sands have massive oil deposits. It's this tarry sandy mix up near Alberta that Canadian and U.S. oil companies want to send to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. This pipeline could ship hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude to the U.S. every day. It's only four percent of what we use, but could drastically reduce the amount of oil we have to import from countries in the Middle East that don't exactly like us.

"This project has the ability to reduce those offshore imports by around 800,000 or 900,000 barrels a day," said Alex Pourbaix, President of Transcanada Corp.

It's not energy independence, but it would lessen our reliance on potential enemies. It's one of the reasons Governor Rick Perry and most of the Texas congressional delegation like the idea and are pushing the Obama administration to approve it.

On Tuesday, the Canadian oil minister told the Houston Business Journal if the U.S. doesn't approve the Keystone project, the Canadians may start selling the oil to China.

To environmentalists, the threat is not enough to overcome their objection.

"The Keystone XL is a bad idea; an idea that must be stopped," said actor/director Robert Redford in an ad.

Working with the National Resource Defense Council, Redford among others is encouraging the U.S. to say no to the Keystone project. Environmentalists say the oil is even dirtier than the crude being refined now, meaning potentially more pollution in Houston air.

And they say as this 1,700 mile pipeline snakes its way across the U.S. it would go under or through precious water resources that we can't afford to pollute.

"Mr. President, stand up for American workers and our land. Say no to the Keystone XL," Redford said in the ad.

He says the thousands of jobs created by pipeline construction aren't enough to overcome his environmental concerns, but politicians talk about them all the time. With 9.1 percent national unemployment, putting 20,000 people to work quickly from Montana to Houston sounds like a winner to them.

Opponents, by the way, plan to encircle the White House with a human chain in opposition to the pipeline on Saturday.


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