The people who are saying we really need this [Keystone XL pipeline] don't recognize that circumstances have changed."
In reality, however, oil prices are determined by the world market and problems or worries involving Middle East oil push up the cost of all crude, no matter where it comes from or where it goes. Physical supply disruptions—whether caused by international conflict, pipeline ruptures, or hurricanes—also trigger oil price spikes (as well as big increases in retail prices for gasoline and diesel).
What's more, the nation's dependence on foreign petroleum imports, now at 45 percent of consumption, has been declining since 2005, according to Energy Information Administration data compiled by the Congressional Research Service. Crude oil imports from the Persian Gulf, despite a recent uptick, are down 30 percent from the peak in 2001. Soaring U.S. production is expected to accelerate those trends.
Still, the Keystone XL pipeline continues to be portrayed as a matter of energy security, a persuasive argument that opinion polls show resonates with voters.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes the energy security argument nearly every time he talks about energy. So do representatives with the oil industry. An executive with TransCanada Corp., the company behind the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, put it this way in a Congressional hearing in December: "Keystone will bring many benefits to the United States, but I believe the most important role that Keystone will play is to bring energy security to the United States during what has been recently some very unsettling times overseas."
That assertion has overshadowed concerns raised by environmentalists, landowners and others who oppose the project. Those worries range from water pollution problems and greenhouse gas emissions in the Canadian oil sands to the perpetuation of the nation's reliance on oil, the seizure of U.S. landowners' property by foreign companies, and the potential for spills and leaks in streams and rivers along the pipeline route.
The notion that the Keystone XL is needed for U.S. energy security persists even as a succession of experts acknowledge that the pipeline's primary target market—the Gulf Coast refining hub—is already well-supplied and will reach glut levels as more U.S. oil flows to the region.
"If the public realizes that [the Gulf Coast refiners] don't need the Keystone XL ... I think it would have a huge impact on support for the project," said Anthony Swift, an attorney at the National Resources Defense Council, which has campaigned against the pipeline for years.
The Keystone XL system was originally intended to run 1,700 miles from Canada's oil sands patch in Alberta to refineries in Texas. But the project needs a permit from the U.S. State Department because it crosses an international border. Early this year President Obama postponed his decision on that permit, saying further environmental review was needed—especially for the section that passes through the Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska, a key source of drinking and irrigation water.
Most of pipeline's 830,000-barrel-a-day capacity would be reserved for diluted bitumen (dilbit), a blend of heavy tar sands bitumen diluted with liquid chemicals. In June, a series of reports by InsideClimate News showed that after a 2010 dilbit spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River, the liquid chemicals began evaporating and the bitumen began sinking to the river's bottom. More than two years later, oil is still pooling in the river. The EPA recently informed Enbridge that the most expensive inland pipeline spill in U.S. history—costing more than $800 million at last count—is still far from over.
To keep the Keystone XL project moving, TransCanada split it into two parts. While the company awaits permits for the northern leg, construction has already started on the southern section, which runs from Cushing, Okla. to Texas and doesn't need State Department approval.
Romney has repeatedly pledged to approve the northern segment "on day one" of his presidency if he wins the election, arguing that the project would create jobs and increase the nation's energy independence. Obama hasn't said whether he plans to approve the northern route.
"We are still the largest oil consuming nation on the face of the earth. The more oil we can bring from Canada, in general, will displace oil coming from Saudi Arabia, from Nigeria."
The dramatic turnaround in U.S. oil production began with the twin technological breakthroughs of horizontal drilling and large-scale use of a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which together have made it possible for oil companies to tease "tight oil" out from dense shale rock formations. Such unconventional oil formations are what’s fueling the boom in North Dakota and Texas.
Oil production in North Dakota jumped to more than 700,000 barrels per day  in August, more than triple its 2009 output , according to state reports. The Eagle Ford area in South Texas is still ramping up, but oil output there is already catching up to production in North Dakota. Tight oil production has already surpassed 900,000 barrels per day, and it's on pace to reach 1.2 million barrels per day by 2020, equal to 18 percent of total U.S. oil production, according to EIA estimates.
"U.S. oil production is up 25 percent since we last had a presidential campaign," said Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize, an acclaimed history of oil, andThe Quest, a new book about energy. "In 2008, everything was really dominated by this notion of scarcity and peak oil."
With the rise of unconventional oil, or 'tight' oil, "there's this sense that our resources are more abundant," Yergin said in an interview. "The share of dependence on the Middle East oil will be lower than was anticipated."
The rebounding production is just part of the nation's new oil equation, however. U.S. fuel consumption has fallen off sharply in recent years because of the combination of a slumping economy, more biofuels use, more efficient vehicles and a shift in driving habits and demographics. While demand may recover somewhat when economic activity picks up, experts say the other factors will keep U.S. oil use on the decline.
Keystone XL supporters say neither the domestic oil boom nor the drop in fuel use negate the need for the pipeline and its cargo of Canadian heavy crude.
"We are still the largest oil consuming nation on the face of the earth. The more oil we can bring from Canada, in general, will displace oil coming from Saudi Arabia, from Nigeria ... that's better for us," said Fadel Gheit, a senior analyst covering the oil industry for Oppenheimer & Co. "Basically, we reduce our dependence on imported oil."
Indeed, the United States is currently a net importer to the tune of 8 million barrels per day of petroleum, driven mostly by demand from the nation's fleet of cars, trucks, trains and planes. That puts the United States a long way from becoming self-sufficient, and further still from becoming a major oil exporter.
And nothing is certain in the world of oil. Politics, environmental concerns, industry accidents, world events, cost and price changes, economic trends, geologic surprises and a slew of other factors could suddenly rearrange oil markets again—and scuttle the export ambitions of North American oil producers.
"Things could change, and very quickly," Gheit said.
Oil economist and consultant Philip Verleger Jr. said the Keystone XL will be a victim of that rapid change. Verleger is a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics whose opposition to the Keystone project has rankled the industry.
"The Keystone XL is going to be just like an Egyptian pyramid. Useless."
Again if a company or person wishes to make an investment it is not you business to decide for them if it is needed or not. It is their capital at risk not yours. Money is made when Americans are smarter than the consensus. Out in front, truly leaning forward, visionary.
If they are wrong Americans have jobs until it is completed and the investors lose their money.
How on earth do Progressives impose this on the rest of us when we need the jobs? Mostly union jobs.
Steel, Pipe fitters, Teamsters, CAT workers. Even the coal guys who send met to make steel.
Progressives only like government unions. The Americans employed in basic industry are human sacrifices to their humanity hating earth goddess. Union rank and file know it too.
So you label them angry guys with bad tans.
Obama said he would bankrupt American coal and he kept that promise by abusing the Unconstitutional power of a radical EPA which is not accountable to we the people.
Again if a company or person wishes to make an investment it is not you business to decide for them if it is needed or not.
What why build it if it is not needed. It is a waste of money and the man power could be used else where on a project that is positive for our country, You make NO sence.
this makeseven more sence I am not against the xl but make damn sure it is donecorrectly and not just for the money purposes.
The pipeline was planned when America's oil demand showed no sign of letting up and its production seemed in permanent decline. Now the pipeline's builder, TransCanada, and the Canadian crude producers who plan to use the pipeline face an economic double-whammy: U.S. demand is declining and U.S.-produced oil is flooding their target market with competing oil.
"The people who are saying we really need this [Keystone XL pipeline] don't recognize that circumstances have changed," said Verleger, who recently predicted that America will begin exporting more energy than it imports within the decade.
Unemployment is at the Obama record measure by u6. 15%.
PIpe line is much safer than Buffett's train pulling the oil.
Obama's inability to create jobs is simply the reality he does not understand how a free market economy creates jobs.
He created jobs with crony capitalist alternative energy - mostly in other countries.
Domestic energy and infrastructure means that simply could not have happened.
Simple. Even you understand even as you pretend not to. That is what Progressive collectivists do.
That is why you are not a Democrat like me or a Republican but a Progressive.