Oil industry uses Clinton, Bush to push Keystone XL (video)

The oil industry’s top lobbying group is launching an ad campaign aimed at convincing the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

With TV commercials as well as print and online advertisements, the American Petroleum Institute is touting bipartisan support for the controversial pipeline that would ferry oil sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.

One TV spot, for example, highlights politicians’ and business leaders’ previous comments endorsing the pipeline.

“Bill Clinton and George Bush both say build the Keystone XL. Warren Buffett too,” the ad says. “So do 82 percent of Americans, and The Wall Street, the Washington Post, USA Today.”

Moving forward: Oil to flow through Keystone XL’s southern leg this year

API will be running the TV ads in the Washington, D.C. area, beginning Tuesday, before rolling the commercials out to New Mexico, Minnesota, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Dakota, Missouri and Florida in August, when lawmakers head home for a month-long congressional recess.

The ad campaign comes as the State Department vets whether the border-crossing pipeline is in the “national interest.” It currently is reviewing about 1.2 million public comments in response to its March conclusion that the project was unlikely to dramatically boost demand for Canada’s oil sands.

Environmentalists dispute that conclusion and say the pipeline would help ensure a market for bitumen harvested from Alberta’s oil sands through energy-intensive techniques that give it a higher carbon price tag than conventional crudes. Some landowners in the pipeline’s path also say they worry that spills of diluted bitumen carried by Keystone XL could taint drinking water supplies.

But the API and other pipeline backers say the diluted bitumen that Keystone XL would transport is no more carbon-intensive than the oil it would displace. Keystone XL is a chance for the U.S. to strengthen ties with a North American ally and import less Venezuelan crude.

“Four out of four State Department assessments have affirmed the project is safe for the environment” and “bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress voted to support the approval of the pipeline,” said Cindy Schild, API’s senior manager of downstream operations. “There is no question the economic, energy security and national security benefits of Keystone XL serve our national interests. All that remains is for President Obama to heed the overwhelming public support and decisive evidence accumulated over almost five years of study and move forward with Keystone XL.”

The explosive derailment of a train carrying crude to a refinery on Canada’s east coast on Saturday has reignited a debate over the best way to move oil across North America and underscored the risks of all forms of transport.

Last December, the Stena Primorsk tanker ran aground while carrying Bakken crude from Albany, New York to the Irving refinery in Canada. Although no pollution was reported, it was the very first of regular, weekly transports of Bakken crude to Canada via the Hudson River.

Canada: Obama telegraphing willingness to approve Keystone XL

Last December, about three gallons of oil leaked out when crude cars tipped over near the Penobscot River in Maine. And in March, a train derailed in Minnesota, discharging about 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

Diluted bitumen poured from an Enbridge pipeline into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River three years ago, and this spring, oil flowed down a suburban street in Mayflower, Ark., after leaking from Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus Pipeline.

Although the northern leg of Keystone XL awaits a presidential permit, the 485-mile southern portion is almost complete. Dubbed the Gulf Coast Pipeline, that southern leg is on track to begin carrying up to 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, by the end of the year.