By James Coburn
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb urged President Barack Obama this week to approve the $5.3 billion Keystone XL Pipeline project. The pipeline would improve job growth in Oklahoma and the Great Plains region.
The Republican Lieutenant Governor's Association hosted a Live Online Video Discussion this week with Lamb and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez of New Mexico.
Lamb was the first Oklahoman to testify for a U.S. Department of State hearing in support of the pipeline when the State Department visited Oklahoma in 2011, he said. Constructing the pipeline would create thousands of jobs from Texas to Montana, Lamb said. Gov. Mary Fallin has said the pipeline would create 1,200 jobs in Oklahoma.
"In addition to that, it would mean energy independence for our country," said Lamb, R-Edmond. "That precipitates homeland security and national security for our country."
New Mexico is also an energy producing state, Sanchez said. For the U.S. not have to rely on oil purchased from unfriendly nations is in the best interest of its people, Sanchez said.
"North America has a great opportunity to lead the world in how we produce energy," Sanchez said.
Obama is expected to decide the fate of the $5.3 billion Keystone XL Pipeline project in the next few months. About 800,000 barrels of heavy crude oil would be transported each day from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State revised an environmental impact statement for the 875-mile Keystone XL pipeline. The report contains no conclusive environmental reason for the pipeline not to be built, said Congressman James Lankford, R-Edmond.
"Fortunately for people in my state of Oklahoma and states around us, the administration is running out of excuses to continue delaying the Keystone XL pipeline," Lankford said. "The last major pipeline from Canada took 27 months to approve by the Obama Administration State Department. So far, the Keystone XL pipeline has consumed 53 months in permitting and administration delays."
Obama traveled to Cushing 12 months ago to say more environmental study is needed on the Keystone pipeline's proposed route through Nebraska to ensure the health and safety of the American people. This aquifer supplies drinking water for 2 million Americans and irrigation for crop lands, Obama said.
Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman had spoken against constructing the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer.
Lankford pointed out that Heineman has since reached an agreement with TransCanada regarding the location of the pipeline within Nebraska.