Vets4Energy Ohio: Rejection of XL pipeline 'lessens national security'

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President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline project three months ago may have brought an end to a controversial proposal initiated over six years ago, but some supporters of the U.S.-Canadian pipeline believe nixing the plan was not in the best interest of the country.

"While the U.S. is rejecting key energy infrastructure projects like KXL Pipeline, other countries are jumping at the opportunities to increase their energy security,” U.S. Army  Spc. Hillary Horsley, an Iraq war veteran and co-chair of Vets4Energy Ohio, told TI News Daily. “While we keep talking about opportunities, others are taking advantage of them. Saying no to the pipeline lessen(ed) our national security, disrespected our Canadian ally and told me that our government did not trust American workers to do it right.”

Vets4Energy is a group of volunteer veterans who choose to continue to serve the country by advocating for energy policies to sustain America’s national security. Horsley, who has co-chaired the Ohio branch since September, said the proposed pipeline could have been instrumental in helping the country achieve energy independence from hostile nations.

“Our nation has the ability to be energy-independent, open up thousands of jobs and secure the energy resources for our allies, while also reducing funds funneled through unfriendly nations that (have) been shown to support international terrorism," Horsley said. "KXL may not be the answer to all things, but it is most certainly a critical part of the strategy that will lead America and our allies to a more secure future, both militarily and economically."

The Keystone Pipeline System delivers crude oil from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas and Illinois, and an oil distribution center in Oklahoma. Commissioned in 2010, the pipeline project has undergone three phases.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, Phase 4, was first proposed in 2008 and would have shortened the route by running a new pipe through Montana and South Dakota before joining the pipeline in Nebraska. The project also would have used a larger-diameter pipe with an estimated capacity to transport approximately 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

But the nearly 1,200-mile proposed pipeline raised concerns at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others, despite receiving approval from the Canadian National Energy Board and a permit by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. The EPA worried about safety issues and possible environmental damage from the project. So the project hung in limbo for years, awaiting a series of reviews that would ultimately lead to a presidential permit needed for the pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

In early 2015, the U.S. House and the Senate passed a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but President Obama vetoed the bill and said the executive branch should make the final decision on the project.

A decision was finally rendered in November.

In announcing his rejection of the project, Obama said Secretary of State John Kerry had come to the conclusion that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline was not in the best interest of the nation.

"This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States," Obama said during a press conference in November. "I agree with that decision."

TransCanada begged to differ.

“(The pipeline) was intended to be a critical infrastructure project for the energy security of the United States and for strengthening the American economy," TransCanada said.

 The energy company also said the pipeline would have created thousands of jobs for Americans, offered increased tax benefits for counties and communities, and provided “a safe, secure, reliable source of energy to help fuel the everyday lives of Americans.”

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