US Plans to Export Oil from Keystone XL Tar Sands; It Won't Improve Energy Security


Photo: Jungbim via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Much to the contrary of the rhetoric used by the Keystone XL's supporters (which now appear to be not only the U.S. State Department, but Obama's Energy Secretary Stephen Chu), the tar sands pipeline that thousands of citizens are protesting at the White House won't do much to help improve energy security at all. No, we're planning on exporting that stuff, a new report reveals. Now, perhaps the most pervasive talking point that's fired off in support of the pipeline goes something like this: "By getting our oily oil from Canada instead of a Big Scary Middle Eastern Nation That Doesn't Like Us Very Much, we'll Improve National Security!"

The report, from OIl Change International, reveals what's really going on: "based on data and documents from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Canadian National Energy Board, corporate disclosures to regulators and investors, and analysis of the rapidly shifting oil market.

The facts:

  • Keystone XL is an export pipeline. The Port Arthur, Texas, refiners at the end of its route are focused on expanding exports to Europe, and Latin America. Much of the fuel refined from the pipeline's heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers' tanks.
  • Valero, the key customer for crude oil from Keystone XL, has explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors. Because Valero's Port Arthur refinery is in a Foreign Trade Zone, the company can carry out its strategy tax-free.
  • In a shrinking U.S. market, Keystone XL is not needed. Since the project was announced, the oil industry acknowledges that higher fuel economy standards and slow economic growth mean declining U.S. oil demand, even as domestic production is booming. Oil from Keystone XL will therefore displace American crude from new, "unconventional" domestic fields in Texas or North Dakota."

Check out the full report at Oil Change International

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