Gerard, McGarvey urge Senate to act on Keystone XL

The increasingly unsettled Middle East situation makes it more important than ever for the US Senate to press the Obama administration for approval of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline’s border permit, leaders of the American Petroleum Institute and the nation’s building and trades unions said.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee should pass Mary L. Landrieu’s (D-La.) bill approving the project at the committee’s scheduled June 18 markup and refer it to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for prompt consideration, API Pres. Jack N. Gerard and Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, told reporters in a June 16 teleconference.

“The growing crisis in the Middle East, as well as ongoing tensions in Ukraine, makes clearer than ever that we cannot stand in the way of smart decisions today that will help to secure a stable supply of energy for our nation in the future,” Gerard said. “We cannot stand by while the administration waits—and waits—until it is politically convenient to do the right thing.”

McGarvey said, “Keystone is a litmus test about whether America is serious about global and regional energy security. Events in the Middle East have driven crude oil prices to their highest point in 9 months. North America’s building and trades unions believe the time for studying this project is over. This extraordinary approval process now has taken longer than it took for the Allies to win World War II.”

Reports that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen J. Harper will make a major announcement soon about a competing project—the Northern Gateway Pipeline—which would transport Alberta heavy crude oil west for export through British Columbia, demonstrate the resource will be produced, Gerard said.

“If he makes the announcement today, it shows the commitment on the Canadians’ part to secure their energy future,” he said. “We hope our elected officials will get our energy security in order, and exercise the political leadership and get on with it to take advantage of this energy resources.”

McGarvey said, “I represent somewhere in the neighborhood of 600,000 workers in Canada. Officials of Alberta and the federal government recognize they need to have more than one customer for their products. It looks to me as if we’re forcing the governments and industry there to look for other customers, and I don’t think we want to be in that position.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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