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Keystone XL Pipeline: Not in the National Interest

Jan. 6, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline: Not in the National Interest

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Note: On Wednesday, Jan. 7, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Just one day after the start of the 114th Congress, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will discuss legislation that, if passed, will ultimately bypass the Obama administration and unilaterally approve the Keystone XL pipeline. If this bill succeeds, it will once again show how out of touch Congress is with policies that benefit Americans. While the Keystone pipeline remains irrelevant for improving America’s energy security, its approval will mean higher gasoline prices for U.S. motorists.

The Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest. Proponents claim that the pipeline will supply the U.S. with more oil and lower prices for consumers – but in reality the opposite will occur. As we explained in a 2013 report, the very purpose of the Keystone pipeline is to take landlocked tar sands oil to the export-oriented refineries of the Gulf Coast, refine the low-grade oil and then ship the product to world markets.

As previous data have shown, the average U.S. gasoline price is lower when we have not exported oil. This means the pipeline will actually raise – not lower – prices for U.S. consumers, as it exports the oil overseas.

The low gas prices we are seeing across the U.S. now underscore the fact that the pipeline isn’t needed. The U.S. already has more oil than it can process, proving that passing the Keystone XL pipeline bill is not about supplying oil to the U.S. market, but rather lining the pockets of the big oil industry.

In addition, the pipeline would transport the dirtiest oil in the world across America’s largest freshwater aquifer, risking a major oil spill and causing dangerous pollutants to be released into the air during the refining process. A 2013 Public Citizen report questioned the safety of Keystone XL’s Texas segment, documenting anomalies that could lead to spills or leaks.

Instead of voting on legislation that would pass the Keystone XL pipeline without presidential approval, Congress should focus on giving families the tools they need to become energy independent. Rooftop solar, expanded mass transit and incentives for alternative fuel and super-fuel efficient vehicles are what families need – not more pipelines.