The largest trade association for the oil and natural gas industry in the United States believes that the Keystone XL pipeline would be good for Nebraska and for the nation as a whole.
The American Petroleum Institute is on record that Keystone XL not only will bring immediate economic benefits to the state in terms of job creation, but that it also will bring longer-lasting benefits in terms of cheaper energy, said Marty Durbin, the institute’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer.
In an interview Tuesday with the Daily News, Durbin said that during construction of the first Keystone pipeline in Nebraska, workers spent approximately $1,000 a week on room, board and dining in the communities where they stayed during construction.
TransCanada has received federal approval to build the pipeline that will carry oil from Canada to Texas, but it must first receive the OK from the Nebraska Public Service Commission for its route through the state.
“There are already dozens of pipelines that are bringing crude oil from Canada and that are here operating anywhere in the upper Midwest,” Durbin said. “Chances are we’re using crude oil from Canada, whether we’re flying on a plane, driving a car or driving a truck.”
The economic benefits derived during the construction process are not to be overlooked, he said.
“We’ve got a Keystone pipeline here (in Nebraska) already that has been operating safely. That pipeline itself brought an awful lot of benefits to the state and I think Norfolk is one of those areas that saw benefits,” he said.
While Durbin recognizes concerns about the safety of adding another oil pipeline that would cross the state, he also believes that Keystone XL will be safe.
“Anytime we’re building infrastructure, we have to be able to listen to the concerns of the local communities,” Durbin said. “There are legitimate issues that are raised. ... More than 99.9 percent of the product going through the oil pipelines arrive safely. Our goal is to make that 100 percent and we will continue to do that. If you have concerns, take a look and see how well we have done to date.”
Durbin said TransCanada and the oil industry as a whole are committed to building Keystone XL in an environmentally safe way.
“We’re going to continue to need oil and natural gas in the country for decades to come,” Durbin said. “It’s in all of our interests to make sure that we have the appropriate infrastructure in place so that we can efficiently move it where it’s needed.”
The state’s public service commission will start holding hearings on the proposed route next month. If approval is given, rough estimates are that Keystone XL could be up and running 12 to 18 months later.
Durbin said he is hopeful that the issue of Keystone XL will not be as contentious this time as it has been in the past during the Barack Obama administration.
“It’s unfortunate that the debate over this one pipeline got as polarized as it did the last time around,” Durbin said. “We’re certainly hopeful that this time that we can have a more civil conversation about what it means to have the necessary infrastructure.”