Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Gov. Mary Fallin writes letter to President Barack Obama urging him to approve Keystone XL pipeline.
BY JAY F. MARKS, The Oklahoman
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is expected to create about 1,200 construction jobs in Oklahoma if the Obama administration approves the project, the man responsible for the $7 billion project said Tuesday.
Keystone Pipelines Vice President Robert Jones said the pipeline in an important piece of infrastructure that will link the large crude oil basin in northern Alberta with U.S. refining centers on the Gulf Coast.
Jones said pipeline could even move oil from the storage hub at Cushing, where a supply glut has reduced the price for oil produced in this region.
“We've offered an expansion of the system before it's even put in the ground to move more oil out of Oklahoma,” said Jones, who spoke Tuesday to the Rotary Club in Oklahoma City.
Keystone developer TransCanada Corp. applied for a presidential permit on the project in September 2008. Such a permit is required because the project would cross an international boundary on its way from Alberta to the Houston area.
Gov. Mary Fallin, after meeting Tuesday with Jones, sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to approve the Keystone pipeline, noting it could add $1.2 billion in new business activity in Oklahoma and boost the state's personal income by $874 million.
Fallin, in a news release, said the White House needs to sign off on the project.
“If the president is serious about job creation and economic stimulus, than he needs to get serious about the Keystone XL pipeline,” Fallin said. “This is a project that will deliver hundreds of thousands of good, private sector jobs, and it does so without the kind of big government programs that will put our nation further into debt. It's time for the president to stop delaying and approve this project.”
Jones said company officials expected to earn a permit in about 18 months because TransCanada had won approval for the original Keystone pipeline in 24 months. TransCanada's application now has been pending for 41 months, thanks to vocal opposition from some environmental groups.
Jones said polls have shown most people support the project.
“The people who are opposed to this project are opposed to oil,” he said. “They just don't want us burning oil.”
He urged supporters of the project to speak up as the Obama administration mulls its decision on presidential permit.
That decision must come within 60 days of Obama's Dec. 23 signature on a bill that extended a payroll tax cut. The bill also put a deadline on the Keystone XL decision.
Jones said the $13 billion pipeline project is ready to proceed as soon as the administration signs off on it.
“We are absolutely ready to go,” he said.
TransCanada already has secured easements on 99 percent of the proposed route in Oklahoma, which is the first part of Keystone XL pipeline that will be built.
Jones estimated the new pipeline that connects the Cushing hub with refining centers on the Gulf Coast could increase the price of locally produced oil by about $10 a barrel.
He also said the new pipeline would be safer than older pipelines that already crisscross the nation.
“We're going to build the most sophisticated pipeline ever built, orders of magnitude safer than any other pipeline,” Jones said.