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Korobov: Keystone pipeline offers a chance for bipartisanship

BY MICHAEL KOROBOV | NOVEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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It seems as if the word “bipartisanship” is being thrown around more than ever. In the past two decades, the number of Americans who routinely take a conservative or liberal position has multiplied from 10 percent to 21 percent. As tension across party lines increases, the result is a divided government that struggles to cohesively move the country forward.

Sometimes, however, the lack of common sense is especially egregious. Our representatives, after all, were elected to look out for us, the citizens, not their corresponding party.

This childish lack of cooperation was again on display Tuesday as a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to pass in the Senate. The measure was rejected by one vote. Introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., the bill was truly bipartisan, attracting 14 Democratic votes (though not Iowa Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin; Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley voted for the pipeline). It would produce jobs, economic prosperity, and energy independence, initiatives both Republicans and Democrats rally around during every election season. And the House had passed the measure, with three-fourths of Iowa’s congressmen voting in support, including Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

The Keystone pipeline bill would authorize the extension of the current Keystone pipeline to deliver more crude oil from Canada to the United States. The project, proposed by the company TransCanada, would cost around $5.3 billion.

The Keystone pipeline would immediately create 42,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout its construction. That number comes from the State Department. TransCanada estimates that 9,000 of these would be skilled laborers, such as welders, mechanics, electricians, pipefitters, safety coordinators, etc. The company also offers health care for its employees.

With the capacity to move 830,000 barrels per day, the pipeline would move the United States closer to energy independence. According to 2013 figures from the Energy Information Administration, the United States imports approximately 17 percent of its oil from Saudi Arabia and 10 percent from Venezuela. TransCanada estimates that the pipeline could reduce our dependence for these regions by up to 40 percent. Canada, on the other hand, is a close ally and is already our largest supplier at 33 percent.

Opponents of the pipeline often cite environmental concerns. It is true that through the processing of crude from oil sands, 17 percent more greenhouses gasses are produced. This led the State Department to conduct a full-scale environmental review that concluded that the Keystone pipeline would hardly affect greenhouse-gas emissions. The oil would still be produced even if the pipeline is not built. If it’s not transported by pipeline, it will most likely be shipped by rail, a much more hazardous alternative.

It’s rare when a bill can make so much sense, which makes Congress’ pussyfooting even more frustrating. While the bill failed, Sen. Mitch McConnell has said the new Republican Senate will reintroduce it. It’s time to stop talking “bipartisanship” and actually do it; the Keystone pipeline creates a perfect avenue for Republicans and Democrats to come together.


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