Speaker of the House & Keystone XL Pipeline

January 18, 2012

Imagine if Ronald Regan were with us today, and what he might be saying to Speaker Boehner:

“If you seek oil independence, if you seek economic prosperity, if you seek good jobs in the United States:  Come here, to this microphone.  Mr. Boehner, open your mind!  Mr. Boehner, tell us the whole story.”

There is an old saying, ‘…real success comes from good planning, carefully executed’.

The Alaska Pipeline — sometimes known as the “Alyeska Pipeline” – provides an interesting case study.

First proposed in 1968, it took about 6 years of pre-construction activities, including extensive soil surveys; archeological investigations; and significant government oversight and permitting to reach the point where preliminary construction began in 1974.

That pipeline was completed in June 1977, taking just over 3 years.

Despite what seems to have been great planning and very careful execution, there have been a number unfortunate and destructive failures and accidents

From 1977 through 1981, about 27,000 barrels  – just over 1 Million gallons – of crude oil leaked from the pipeline at various places due to a variety of failures: accidents; pipe settlement; leaking valves; even sabotage.


Running 800 miles across a very complex ecosystem and terrain, the Alaska Pipeline provides a great “cookbook” for what it takes to build a great pipeline that will stand the test of time.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would run some 1,700 miles from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, has generated a great deal of controversy, some pro, some against.

Some have claimed that the Keystone 1 pipeline, which began operations in June 2010, had more spills in its first year of operation than any in history – some very minor, some significant, thus creating some reason for reservation about the sponsor and operator itself of Keystone XL.

Others have claimed that the Keystone XL pipeline will be a salvation for the U.S. economy, creating an endless supply of petroleum while also creating thousands of jobs.

There must be some truth on both sides of these arguments, yet it seems we don’t have all of the facts quite yet.

Doesn’t it make sense to give a few more months so that a complete and independent assessment can be completed so that our elected officials and their independent advisors are able to make neutral and informed decisions?

If we leave the decisions to be made in the hands of lobbyists and insiders, will we get an optimum outcome?

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