Nearly 170 billion barrels of Canadian oil sands fuel could be recovered economically with today's technology -- 20 percent by mining and 80 percent through drilling and steam injection. Much of this oil is already pipelined to the Midwest. Far more could move from Alberta to Texas if the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department and White House finally approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has approved that state's portion of Keystone, saying its revised route avoids areas that critics had earlier claimed were too environmentally sensitive. All six states along the proposed 2,000-mile route now support the pipeline. Fifty-three U.S. senators have signed a bipartisan letter, urging President Obama to approve the $7 billion project, which has already been studied for four years.
Keystone would create an estimated 20,000 construction, equipment and service jobs in Nebraska and other states during the building phase. Over the next 20 years, it would support up to 465,000 more jobs in the 2,000 American companies that already support oil sands operations or utilize the hydrocarbons in motor fuel, petrochemical manufacturing and other industries, while generating hundreds of billions in sales, employee wages and gross domestic product -- and tens of billions in federal, state and local property, sales and income taxes.
In short, Keystone and oil sands are essential if we are to put Americans back to work, reduce budget deficits and pay for Obamacare, Medicare, Social Security, defense and other programs.
Approval should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, radical environmental groups are determined to sabotage the pipeline. Their assertions underscore how desperate, ideologically driven, intellectually bankrupt and indifferent to the jobs and welfare of average Americans they have become.
"Oil sands are the dirtiest oil on Earth." Alberta's heavy oils are equivalent to heavy crudes from California, Mexico, Venezuela and other regions. Keystone XL would replace those oil imports and oil from major suppliers that have much lower environmental standards and far worse human rights records than Canada, including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Russia and Algeria.
"Keystone oil will exacerbate global warming." Oil sands production contributes only 0.14 percent of global greenhouse gases, Environment Canada notes, and would add an undetectable 0.00001 degrees Celsius per year to global warming. Greenhouse gases emitted from production to automotive use for oil sands crude are on par with crude from Nigeria, America's third-biggest supplier.
Moreover, our planet hasn't warmed in 16 years. Only one Category 3 or higher U.S. hurricane has made landfall since 2005, making this one of the lowest cyclical ebbs since the Civil War, and Hurricane Sandy's hardly unprecedented pounding of New York City was compounded by numerous ill-considered decisions by its political leaders.
"Oil sands petroleum coke will hasten global warming." This fuel is a byproduct of all heavy oil refining, so the Canadian variety simply displaces Mexican and Venezuelan petroleum coke. Most oil sands output is "upgraded" to medium-weight oil for pipelining by removing carbon and adding hydrogen. The resultant carbon is stored onsite for sale to manufacturers and other users.
"Alberta lakes have been poisoned by airborne oil sands particles." Measured levels are typical of northern Canadian lakes and well below those in lakes near Canada's urban centers. Furthermore, the observed changes are 25 to 50 nanograms -- the equivalent of up to 50 billionths of a fifth of a teaspoon of water -- and could have resulted from increasing boat and seaplane traffic on the lakes.
Scientific instruments could not even measure such amounts several decades ago, and even the researchers who did the study noted that algae, photosynthesis and nutrient levels in the lakes have increased since Earth emerged from its 1942-1976 cooling period. Bottom line: The lakes are healthy.
"Hydrocarbons are ecologically destructive." People are living longer, healthier, more comfortable and productive lives -- on a cleaner planet -- than even kings and queens dreamed of 150 years ago, analyst and author Indur Goklany demonstrates in "The Improving State of the World." A major reason is fossil fuels, which have "saved humanity from nature, and nature from humanity."
As Austrian filmmaker and environmentalist Ulrich Eichelmann explains in his new "Climate Crimes" documentary, it is non-hydrocarbon energy sources that "kill nature." Dams flood ecological preserves to generate hydroelectric power; corn and other monoculture crops destroy vital habitats; and European families that can no longer afford heating oil and electricity are chopping down forests for firewood.
In the United States alone, 40,000 enormous wind turbines butcher 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year -- including eagles, hawks, whooping cranes and other essential and endangered species -- while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to prosecute industrial wind operators and even assists in their flagrant deception and cover-up.
With 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, 47 million on food stamps, 128 million dependent on various government programs and the nation $16.5 trillion in debt -- we clearly need oil sands petroleum and Keystone.
Mr. Obama has a perfect opportunity to restore ethics and common sense to America's energy and environmental policies. For the sake of our planet and children, he needs to say "yes" to Keystone XL.
Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death" (Merril Press, 2012).