Business leaders urge Obama to approve Keystone XL permit

Three major US business organizations sent a letter to US President Barack Obama urging him to approve the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline’s cross-border permit. The Oct. 9 letter was signed by 168 business leaders.

“We are at an inflection point in our economic recovery,” the letter from the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and Business Roundtable said. “Whether economic growth will remain modest or pick up speed will depend on maintaining investor confidence and strengthening America’s competitiveness. The decision on Keystone XL will affect both.”

The letter acknowledged that the Obama administration is considering environmental risks associated with the project. “Those risks, like those incumbent in many other significant projects, must—and can—be managed, through appropriate regulation and careful stewardship,” it said.

“Keystone XL will meet nearly 60 special conditions set by regulators to minimize risks, and ultimately the net environmental impact of the pipeline would be minimal—as was recognized in your administration’s draft supplemental environmental impact statement,” the letter noted.

“The American business community and an overwhelming majority of citizens support the Keystone XL pipeline,” observed Karen A. Harbert, president of the US Chamber’s Institute for 21st Energy, as the letter was released on Oct. 10.

‘No reason to delay’

“Hundreds of thousands of miles of pipeline carrying oil, gas, and other materials already exist, so there is no reason to further delay Keystone,” Harbert said. “Businesses understand that it will create jobs and reduce our dependence on oil from unfriendly nations. President Obama should act now.”

NAM Pres. Jay Timmons said, “This letter, signed by more than 165 industry leaders representing a wide range of political views, confirms manufacturers’ message that Keystone is not simply a debate about construction jobs.”

Timmons said, “It is about the impact that approval or denial of this project will have on the economy in general, including on laborers, manufacturers, small and large businesses and communities throughout the supply chain. As these executives made clear, it is about sending investors a signal that America is open for business.”

TransCanada Corp., the project’s sponsor, said it welcomed the US business executives’ support. “As [they] said in their letter to President Obama, a positive decision on Keystone XL would materially affect both the rate of economic growth and America’s competitiveness,” said Russ Girling, the Calgary-based company’s chief executive.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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