More than 160 business executives on Thursday warned President Barack Obama that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would send a dangerous signal to investors and threaten U.S. economic growth.
Writing under the banner of three business groups, the executives from companies such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Waste Management, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp., insisted that the proposed pipeline is critically important to “the broader American economy.”
“Whether economic growth will remain modest or pick up speed will depend on maintaining investor confidence and strengthening America’s competitiveness,” said the business leaders in a letter to Obama. “The decision on Keystone XL will affect both.”
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The State Department is tasked with deciding whether Keystone XL is in the national interest, a decision that could come early next year, after it finalizes its latest environmental assessment of the proposed TransCanada Corp. project. If other federal agencies disagree, the decision could end up in Obama’s hands.
Beginning in Alberta, the pipeline would deliver crude harvested from Canada’s oil sands and Bakken formation to the Gulf Coast.
Environmentalists have cast the administration’s decision as a test of the president’s commitment to combatting climate change, since they say it would further development of Canadian oil sands that produce more greenhouse gases from extraction to combustion than alternatives. The bitumen in Canada’s oil sands generally is harvested with techniques requiring more energy than conventional oil production.
Oil industry leaders dispute that analysis and say the Canadian product would displace heavy crudes coming in from Venezuela and Mexico.
In a June 25 speech, Obama vowed that his administration will only approve the multibillion-dollar pipeline “if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
Obama also stressed that “the net effects of the pipeline’s impacts on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”
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The administration is right to carefully consider “the environmental risks associated with Keystone XL,” the business leaders said. But the risks can be managed, the group said, while making a pitch for economic considerations to play a bigger role.
“Investor confidence is shaped heavily by perceptions of business climate — whether governments take actions that enable capital investment and job growth,” said the letter from the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers. “Approving this investment will send a powerful signal of this administration’s commitment to getting America back to work.”
The business leaders added that approving Keystone XL would send a “signal to the world that the necessary ingredients for a strengthened U.S. recover are in place.” At the same time, they said, it would “bolster the foundations of U.S. competitiveness and energy security.”
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