OPINION: Houston Chronicle Editorial: Time for Keystone, please!

August 22, 2013

Houston Chronicle: "There's no good reason to further delay presidential approval of Keystone."

August 21, 2013

EDITORIAL: Time for Keystone, please!

With Obama's environment standards met, there's no reason to delay finish of pipeline.

It's your move on Keystone, Mr. President.

You asked for confirmation that pumping heavy crude from western Canada for refining on the Texas Gulf Coast via the controversial pipeline would not make things worse for the environment.

You now have proof from a credible source. No, make that two. A report done by IHS CERA, the highly regarded global information company, confirms the findings of an earlier draft Environmental Impact Statement performed for the U.S. State Department.

Both found that blocking construction of the pipeline would have little or no impact on oil sands production in Alberta. The 830,000 barrels of oil per day carried by Keystone to Gulf refineries would simply be rerouted to other markets, either by pipeline or by rail.

What hasn't been much discussed, but certainly should be, is that the oil being processed by Gulf Coast refineries would continue to be heavy oil, similar in grade to the Canadian crude, but coming from Venezuela, home of the most virulently anti-American regime in this hemisphere.

This does not seem like a hard choice to us. As every American school child is taught, the border separating Canada and the United States is the longest unarmed border in the world. The chances of a supply interruption ordered by a strongman dictatorship in Ottawa approach the unthinkable.

And Venezuela? The late Marxist strongman Hugo Chávez, the same Chávez who compared President George W. Bush to the devil in a forum at the United Nations, has been succeeded by a more vitriolic clone.

Doesn't that place completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline in the realm of national security? We think it does.

Another thing: Retooling Gulf refineries, which were rebuilt based on market conditions and expectations to handle heavy crude, would be both expensive and foolish given the changed energy landscape. It is not a viable alternative.

Doing business with Canada on Keystone absolutely is. It would also strengthen the North American Free Trade Agreement and enhance prospects for creation of a North American Energy Alliance that would include Mexico.

On the NAFTA subject: The president's tone of scolding our northern neighbor and staunchest ally in the good cause of making the world greener doesn't exactly square with the facts. As a Canadian government minister recently pointed out, his nation's compliance with greening goals surpasses that of the United States in many key areas.

It may be that these latest findings confirming rough environmental neutrality and pointing out continuing reliance on Venezuela as the unsavory alternative will only prompt the president to move the goalposts on the Keystone - again. That would be a costly and unnecessary mistake.

There's no good reason to further delay presidential approval of Keystone.

To read the editorial online, click here.

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