Five years ago, Transcanada, a major operator of oil and natural gas pipelines, submitted an application with the State Department for approval to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Obama Administration has yet to act, even though this pipeline would strengthen the nation's
energy security and economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide thousands of union construction and permanent jobs in United States.
The Keystone Pipeline would carry crude from Canada's Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining. It also would include an extension to carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota.
The Obama administration's delay is tied to concerns by environmentalists who say the pipeline will maintain the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and damage the environment. Neither case is accurate.
The nation's reliance on the fossil fuel is going to continue long-term regardless of whether Keystone is built. Even the best realistic estimates show that renewable energy sources cannot come close to satisfying the voracious energy demand of our nation without a major economic slowdown and high costs for research, development and infrastructure.
Denial of the pipeline will not stop the oil from being produced either. Demand is there. For now, the oil is carried by a much riskier mode of transportation - rail. Large-scale shipment of crude by rail transport has increased 25-fold since 2008. Long trains loaded with oil traverse populated areas, posing significantly more risk that a new pipeline would.
Train derailments and resulting burning oil tankers are occurring with increasing frequency, some with deadly results. Locomotive emissions spew particulates into the air far more than pipeline facilities would.
Without authorization to build Keystone Pipeline, Canada will build a pipeline from Alberta due west to the Pacific Coast instead. From there the oil will be carried by tanker to markets in Asia.
It's an easy choice, really.
The administration can support a greater supply of North American energy and potentially lower costs for U.S. energy consumers , safer energy transportation, reduced environmental impacts and more good jobs.
Or it can do nothing and lose those benefits.