The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has come out in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the construction of which would transport new oil from Canadian tar sands through the heartland of America to Oklahoma and Texas.
In a written media statement Thursday, Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber, cited jobs and rising gasoline prices as primary reasons for the chamber’s decision.
“Last week, gas prices went up 11 cents per gallon in Georgia,” Clark said, “and the national average climbed to $3.72. Businesses and families alike are looking at their budgets to determine how they will afford what for most is an unavoidable cost — one that is hitting at a critical time in our nation’s economic recovery.”
Clark acknowledged the part Middle Eastern instability plays in rising gas prices and fear the region will no longer be a reliable source of crude oil.
“That makes it even more baffling that the Obama administration would do anything to hinder an opportunity to import oil from Canada, our neighbor to the north and a friendly trading partner,” Clark said.
According to Clark, construction of the controversial pipeline would also provide as many as 20,000 immediate American jobs during a period of unusually high unemployment. Clark cites a study by the Congressional Research Service, estimating more than 340,000 “direct and indirect” jobs created over the lifetime of the pipeline, with $600 million in revenue injected into our economy each year.
“Given that our state produces no crude oil, has no oil wells in operation, and has no proven reserves, we will always rely on outside sources — of which Canada would be a much preferable option,” he said.
On the January recommendation of the U.S. State Department, President Obama denied construction of the Keystone pipeline until it can be studied further, citing potential environmental issues as a part of his decision.
Kerri-Ann Jones, an assistant secretary of state, recently told a House subcommittee on energy and power the Keystone Pipeline would not serve the national interest at this time, citing unresolved concerns.
According to an article by The Christian Science Monitor, some environmentalists are concerned with increased greenhouse gases produced through harvesting the oil in the Canadian tar sands and the potential damage to the Ogallal aquifer in Nebraska. The same article sites a Department of Energy study which found that Canadian oil imports would be expected to grow at “almost identical levels” through 2030 through existing and new pipelines, as well as rail shipments, whether the pipeline is built or not. The Keystone Pipeline would be expected to provide about 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily. The total U.S. consumption is around 18 million barrels of oil each day, according to energy sources.