Keystone XL: Parallels to the Alaska Pipeline
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Keystone XL: Parallels to the Alaska Pipeline

Keystone XL: Parallels to the Alaska Pipeline

Rudy Takala and David Kreutzer, Ph.D.

March 11, 2013

As the U.S. commemorates the 40th anniversary of passage of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline Authorization Act of 1973, it is worth remembering the challenges the project overcame and how they mirror the challenges facing the Keystone XL Pipeline today.

An 800-mile engineering marvel, the Alaska Pipeline was completed in two years and two months—but only after Congress acted to end

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline (Photo credit: shannonpatrick17)

interminable delays forced on the builders long after they completed the required environmental impact statements. Contrary to the dire predictions from many opponents, the Alaska Pipeline has had an excellent environmental record and has delivered 16 billion barrels of petroleum along with royalty revenue and thousands of jobs.

The Keystone XL, which would transport oil from Alberta (and some U.S. locations) to the Gulf Coast, has been even more extensively studied than the Alaska Pipeline was when Congress approved it in 1973. Yet it is still being stalled by environmental groups seeking to prevent any possibility of the pipeline being built in the United States—even after a series of favorable environmental impact statements (EIS) and a supplemental EIS recently issued by the State Department.

Of course, if environmentalists are successful in blocking the pipeline, that doesn’t mean the Canadian oil will not be produced. It simply means that it would be routed to China. When President Obama denied a permitting request for the Keystone XL in early 2012, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver suggested that they’d be looking to the Chinese as an alternative investor.

Read more at Keystone XL: Parallels to the Alaska Pipeline.

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