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Keystone XL Pipeline: Stop the Delays

by on April 27, 2014 5:45 AM

For the past five years, the Obama administration has been delaying the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that is proposed to run from Canada to a terminal in the Midwest and then on to the refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The Keystone XL pipeline will bring Canadian tar oils and the Bakken oil production from North Dakota to our southern refineries.

The State Department has continued to study and delay this pipeline to slow energy development, requiring oils to be moved by tanker trains.

There have been at least two major accidents involving tanker trains moving oil from the oil fields to the refineries. Experts tell us that pipelines are significantly safer way to move crude oil than tanker trains.

The XL Pipeline is a piece of the rapid development of North America's energy resources that will move the U.S. from a net energy importer to an energy exporter in the next few years. Proposed exports of LNG energy from our vast natural gas fields are creating an international market in natural gas and changing the political sphere from Europe to Japan.

Locally, Pennsylvania has become an exporter of natural gas produced from the Marcellus Shale, changing the economics of doing business in Pennsylvania. Natural gas development is creating many new high paying jobs. We are exporting natural gas to New York State and perhaps soon the world (if we can get the LNG terminal approved for Baltimore, MD). We have a vast supply of chemical feedstock from which we can create a plethora of manufactured goods. Think polyethylene: plastics.

The impact in the world is very far-reaching. While President Putin grabs chunks of Ukraine and attempts to hold Europe hostage to the Gazprom pipelines running from Russia to Western Europe, our LNG exports to Europe could provide them with an alternative to Russian natural gas.

Japan, following their Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by the 2011 tsunami, has shut down many of their older nuclear plants and is now importing vast quantities of LNG to fill their energy gap. Our natural gas development is important to the rest of the world and an approval for our LNG export terminals is vitally important to both the U.S. and our potential customers.

Much of this energy development has been on private lands since the Federal Government withholds many acres from energy development. In most of the United States, property owners also own the minerals (including oil and gas) on their properties. In Europe and most other countries in the world, the government owns the minerals on private property. This is one of the primary reasons we are miles ahead of other countries in developing our energy resources.

So whether you are for or against energy development here in the United States, keep in mind that we are the best at safely and cleanly developing energy resources. One has only to look at the pollution in Russia and China to see how those economic and political models treat the environment. Transporting oil by pipeline is significantly safer than by tanker train. Barring miraculous advances in curbing the costs of wind, solar and geothermal energy development, hydrocarbon resources will provide the bulk of our energy resources for decades to come.

So the ball is in the Obama court. Are they going to continue to obstruct energy development or are they going to get with the program and create jobs and develop cheap energy and chemical feedstock and move towards balancing our trade deficit?

It doesn't get much more clear-cut than this. American industry will flex its might with or without Washington. We could just get there a lot faster with some political cooperation.

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Dan Nestlerode is the Director of Research and Portfolio Management at Nestlerode & Loy Investment Advisors in State College. A graduate of Penn State University, Nestlerode has been an investment advisor since 1965. He can be reached at danielj@nestlerode.com.
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