EDITORIAL: Build Keystone XL for safety's sake

2014-05-08T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Build Keystone XL for safety's sake nwitimes.com
May 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The Keystone XL pipeline should be built as a way to make oil transportation safer.

Pipelines are safer and more efficient than rail transportation, which in turn is safer and more efficient than transporting oil long distances by truck.

A bipartisan group of senators, including Indiana's own Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, and Dan Coats, a Republican, is pushing for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that has been continually postponed by the Obama administration. 

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 79-20 to consider an energy efficiency bill that Keystone's backers want to amend to authorize immediate construction of the pipeline from Canada to the United States.

Donnelly and Coats, along with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., favor S.2280, a short bit of legislation to fast-track construction. No vote has been scheduled on that bill authored by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Send that oil via pipeline to U.S. refineries for processing.

Here in the region, we know the importance of refining crude oil from western Canada. BP spent more than $4 billion to upgrade Whiting Refinery to handle that oil.

Those jobs were a boon to the local economy at a time when there was little other construction work available. So many workers were needed for that project that labor was imported — boosting spending at local motels, restaurants and gas stations.

Just how many jobs would be created by construction of the Keystone XL pipeline remains to be seen. Estimates vary.

But set aside concerns over the exact number of construction jobs created. Know that thousands of jobs definitely will be created.

And set aside environmental concerns, knowing the State Department, which has already reviewed the pipeline plans, said that won't be a problem. Realize that other forms of transportation hold inherent environmental hazards. And spend what it takes to make sure there is proper monitoring for leaks and other precautions to protect the environment.

Above all, consider the safety factor, knowing the oil will be transported anyway, and a pipeline — properly monitored, and replaced before the end of its life expectancy — is the safest form of transportation for that oil.

A second option would be to require double-walled tanker cars for transporting petroleum by rail, to reduce the odds of leaks, but building the pipeline is our first choice. Transporting the oil underground is the safest and best option.

The Keystone XL pipeline project has been stalled long enough. It's time to start construction.

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