Houston experts weigh in on Keystone XL pipeline

June 30, 2012 7:27:18 PM PDT
The Keystone XL pipeline proposal is one step closer to reality.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday approved the next phase of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is the section running from Cushing, Oklahoma through Texas to Port Arthur.

Energy expert and Publisher of Energy Magazine Rick Slemaker said this means big business for the state's economy, specifically in Houston.

"Number one reason: all the engineering design will come out of Texas, mostly Houston," Slemaker said. "These businesses here will be constructing it, these steps that are happening are benefitting Houston greatly."

Slemaker said gas prices have also been on the decline in recent weeks because America has tapped into using its own resources through shale oil, adding that the keystone pipeline could further decrease America's dependency on foreign oil. "It's going to give us even more oil supply, which will fill up our coffers and will allow more competition for that fuel and the price will go down," he said.

But from the start, the $5.3 billion pipeline has had fierce opposition, from concerns about possible leaks contaminating our water supply to the effects of air quality once the crude hits gulf coast refineries.

"This is not going to make anyone more energy independent. It's not going to reduce the price of gasoline," said Matthew Tejada, executive director of Air Alliance Houston.

Tejada said he believes this pipeline -- or any other pipeline that brings tar sands from Canada to Texas -- is all about the bottom line for big companies, and he doesn't think it's worth the risk.

"This is the cheapest way for them to get the stuff they process in these refineries. The refineries in Texas are the best ones at processing this heavy dirty crude," Tejada said.

The president still must approve the Keystone XL pipeline. A federal review of the proposal could happen sometime next year.

A portion of Trans-Canada's plan to build a 115-mile pipeline near Galveston has already been given the green light by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This part of the pipeline was never in dispute.

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