skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Clean Power plan
Safe Chemicals

Anthony Swift’s Blog

President Obama's bold decision on Keystone XL is a win for U.S. energy security

Anthony Swift

Posted November 11, 2011

, , , , , ,
Share | | |

By rejecting a rushed approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, President Obama has confirmed his commitment to U.S energy independence. As we honor our veterans, we should celebrate a decision that will make them and the American people safer. Few people are in a better position to understand the impact that Obama’s decision will have on our troops than Retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson, who served as the Chief Logistician in Iraq and Afghanistan under Gen. Petreaus. General Anderson, who first identified the connections between fuel conveys and American casualties in Iraq, recently wrote an op-ed explaining that Keystone XL would threaten U.S. national security.

General Anderson praised President Obama’s decision yesterday to reject TransCanada’s current plan in a statement, saying:

 “I’m pleased to see that the Administration has had the good sense to reject TransCanada’s current plan and will give this project the scrutiny it deserves. My experiences in Iraq convinced me that the greatest threat to our security is our over-reliance on oil and that Americans must immediately take steps to cut our petro-addiction before it’s too late.”

The General went on to say:

“The Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t help.  This pipeline would move dirty oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and would set back our renewable energy efforts for at least two decades, and do absolutely nothing to move us off Middle East oil, to our enemies’ delight.  It would ensure we maintain our oil addiction and delay making the tough decisions regarding energy production, management and conservation that we need to start making today.  I am hopeful that after further review, the President will officially end all plans to allow TransCanada to build this oil.”

TransCanada has asserted that without its pipeline, America will “continue to import 10 million barrels of oil a day.” Keystone XL wouldn’t have reduced U.S. oil imports. As my colleague Wesley Warren points out, because the United States failed in its attempt to conquer our neighbor to the north during the War of 1812, Canada is in fact a different country. And that means that imported oil from Canada is still imported oil.

Moreover, Keystone XL would not have increased Canadian oil imports to the U.S. any time soon. Right now, there is nearly twice as much pipeline capacity from Canada as there is oil to fill it. The Department of Energy estimated that Keystone XL wouldn’t bring new oil into the United States until the mid-2020s or later.

The three things the pipeline would have done are 1) allowed tar sands producers to export their crude in the international market from Houston, 2) sent a strong signal to financial markets that would have expanded the destructive production of low grade tar sands bitumen and 3) strengthened interests that oppose the development of clean energy technologies in the United States. None of these things are in the country's economic, security or environmental interests.

Keystone XL would not have protected the United States from oil market price fluctuations or reduced the price of crude in the United States. The Canadian government, when not boosting Keystone XL, has admitted that it does not influence the world price of oil. When world oil prices go up, Canadian oil prices go up with them.

Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency James Woolsey and Anne Korin, Co-Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security summed this up: “Even if the U.S. did not import a drop of oil-or if all, instead of just most, of our imports came from Canada and Mexico-we’d still be vulnerable to the vagaries of the oil markets and price manipulation by OPEC.”

The only way to ensure American energy security is to make our country truly independent from world oil markets. The United States Energy Security Council, a bipartisan organization of former cabinet officials, scientists, national security and business leaders explained:

“Oil’s status as a strategic commodity undermines U.S. national security and weakens the U.S. economy.  Reducing oil’s strategic importance requires breaking its virtual monopoly over transportation fuel.”

President Obama understands this. His administration has made significant strides in reducing the country’s dependence on oil – the U.S. uses nearly two million barrels of oil per day less than it did just six years ago.  By 2030, new automotive fuel efficiency standards established by the Obama will have reduced the nation’s fuel consumption by an additional 1.5 million gallons a year.

By rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline as proposed, the Obama Administration has shown bold leadership as it directs the United States to a safer and cleaner future.

Ret. Brigadier General Steven Anderson testifies before the State Department on Keystone XL, October 6, 2011

Share | | |


Nate MNov 12 2011 12:41 AM

I'd rather more oil comes from Canada then the Middle East.

This article is incredibly shortsighted and obviously has the agenda of the environmental lobby and not on decreasing dependence on oil from dictators.

katNov 12 2011 10:32 AM

I think combat duties finally got to the general.
Must be something in it for the General. As far as I see it he is backing the continued spewing of blood and oil from the Middle East.
You are right Nat - totally short - sighted. Typical.
Oh and Nat - did you know that if you looked at the financial records of NrDC here (which are public) the average salary is 85,000. There is money in being a so called "environmentalist".

katNov 12 2011 10:52 AM

There is no mention of the struggles in the middle east. Women are oppressed and dogs are treated better. Not to mention countless other human atrocities. But the NRDC turns their head and looks the other way while they continue to batter their neighbours to the North.
I would rather have black on my hands than blood on my hands America.

KenNov 12 2011 11:09 AM

Did the commenters actually read the blog or General Anderson's op-ed? Sounds like they are the shortsighted ones. One of the biggest problems with Keystone XL is that it is taking Canadian oil through the US to the coast for EXPORT, putting it on the world market, and making it no different than oil from all other countries.

You have to think about this in a little more complex way. Right now we are Canada's only customer. We're getting this oil already: their current pipeline system ends in Oklahoma. KeystoneXL will give Canada the chance to take their tar sand oil to the coast to compete on the world market---then we will just get to pay higher prices for it...NOT good for our country at all.

We need to decrease our oil dependence from ALL foreign sources, and this pipeline keeps us from investing in other sources of energy.

And I'm sure the lobbyists and lawyers at TransCanada that are trying to take advantage of US farmers and landowners are making much more than $85,000/year...

katNov 12 2011 11:24 AM

Excuse me Ken but I guess in your eyes it's okay for employees in a non-profit organization to make 85,000. It's shameful!!!!!
More than the unemployed wouldn't you say?

I suppose no one in America would have made any money including the landowners.

conusamNov 12 2011 11:40 AM

It's simply amazing how everyone tends to skip over any mention of oil and human atrocities in the middle east.
I suppose you think that because a couple dictators are gone - democracy reigns.
It's that old idea that - it isn't in my backyard so I don't care.

mmfyNov 12 2011 06:24 PM

Actually the founder father of this org. John Adam gets 3 quarters of a million an Ms. Beinecke get close to 280,000.

Amazing isn't it!

Suzn GilbertNov 12 2011 08:46 PM

All that biz about how people are NOT treated well in the middle-east has nothing to do with the Keystone XL matter! Be HONEST & ask yourselves what's really of importance here?! Acting as a "conduit" for Canada to get its oil to market? Or continuing our addiction to oil? Perhaps this very situation finally & deservedly shines a spotlight on our need for alternative energy sources! Ahem.

mmfyNov 12 2011 10:32 PM

To Suzn - good for you and your lack of compassion.

Yes let's turn it around - shall we and avoid the real issues in the world - not in my backyard so what the hey should I care?

conusamNov 12 2011 10:33 PM

OH and alternative energy sources aint' going happen tomorrow .

katNov 12 2011 11:04 PM

"Acting as a "conduit" for Canada to get its oil to market?"
Oh geez is that like invading a country where you are not wanted? How ironic is that??

Greg HollandNov 13 2011 12:32 PM

I'm confused. If we have so much oil in the Bakken fields in the Dakotas why do we need the dirty oil from Alberta???

Captain RealityNov 15 2011 07:50 AM

This is all very nice. But the fact is that the USA still needs oil and will for some time before there can be any meaningful change away from energy independence. It would be great if Transcanada rerouted their oil and sold to Asia. Probably wont happen but it would be good.---Let America wallow in its debt and bankruptcies.

Montgomery is awesome!

Montgomery triangle is awesome!

MarcoNov 20 2011 04:24 PM

Obama is weak--he neither approved it or squashed the pipeline. Now, Transcanada is really talking to Asia about supplying them with oil, through a pipeline running through Canada.

Have fun on ze bikes America cause Asians es gettin cars, fueled with that awful dirty Albertan oil.

Too funny,

Montgomery is awesome!

JonDec 4 2011 04:15 AM

Now the first nations are standing up against the pipeline. This is stupid--USA needs that oil and needs to get it from Canada. Personally--I love oil to go to $200 a barrel. Hopefully all this BS tree-hugging stupid protests push oil prices up through the roof.

Montgomery is awesome

Montgomery triangle is awesome!

Comments are closed for this post.


Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

Feeds: Anthony Swift’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In