Corrected: US chemical, other industries again press for Keystone OK

08 July 2014 17:59 Source:ICIS News

Correction: In the ICIS story headlined "US chemical, other industries again press for Keystone OK" dated 8 July 2014, please read in the 15th paragraph ... "A spokeswoman for the API" ... instead of ... "A spokeswoman for AFPM". A corrected story follows:

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A broad coalition of petrochemical, refining and other manufacturing interests on Tuesday asked the State Department for immediate approval of the long-pending Keystone XL pipeline proposal, arguing that the project would give the US economy needed stimulus and jobs.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, 44 industrial associations and trade groups said that despite the department’s own study finding that the project would create 42,000 jobs and generate some $3.4bn for the nation’s GDP, “we continue to wait”.

“Over 70% of Americans, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, support the building of this project, and yet we continue to wait,” the industry groups said.

The privately funded Keystone XL project has been under consideration by President Barack Obama's administration for nearly six years, has been cleared by five State Department reviews and has been given approval by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The long-delayed decision on the project is still pending at the State Department, which has ultimate authority because the pipeline would cross an international boundary. In its most recent delay, the department said on 18 April this year that it cannot make a final determination until a related legal issue is resolved in a Nebraska court.

The $7bn project would involve building a 36-inch pipeline some 1,100 miles across five US states, bringing crude to refineries in the US Midwest as well as Texas and providing refined products to another half-dozen states.

Canadian officials have repeatedly hinted that absent US approval for the Keystone project, they will take steps to redirect supply of Canadian crude to Asia instead.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are among the 44 groups pressing State for a final and prompt decision.

“The Keystone XL pipeline has been studied longer than any pipeline project in US history,” the letter noted.

“However, after nearly six years of studies showing no significant impacts - yet positive benefits to our energy and economic security - politics are still trumping good policy,” the petitioners charged.

The Obama administration is believed to be unwilling to make a final decision on the controversial pipeline project for fear that, as the US national elections loom in November, denying the proposal would alienate the president’s labour supporters and approving it would enrage his environmental base.

The ACC said that the appeal to Kerry was in part keyed to the onset of prime construction weather in the US.

“ACC hopes the letter will encourage the State Department to approve the project and put Americans to work constructing the pipeline right away, this summer,” a council spokeswoman said.

She said that ACC and other members of the coalition hope to have a meeting soon with Kerry.

A spokeswoman for the API said that the letter appeal to Kerry “is another example of the broad support the pipeline continues to enjoy”.

“After five years of review, the Keystone XL needs to be approved immediately,” she said.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By Joe Kamalick