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Retired General: Lugar's Keystone XL bill will reduce U.S. national security

Anthony Swift

Posted December 5, 2011 in Moving Beyond Oil, U.S. Law and Policy

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Retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson has announced his strong opposition to the bill recently proposed by Senator Lugar to expedite the Keystone XL pipeline. That legislation would require the President Obama to issue a permit within 60 days to allow the Keystone XL project to move ahead - despite the fact that a route for the pipeline hasn't even been decided yet. General Anderson disagreed with Senator Lugar’s assertion that the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be good for national security, noting that Keystone XL would act as a pathway for oil to be exported out of the country while doing nothing to solve the core problem - our country's oil dependence. The General concluded that the only way to reduce our reliance on volatile oil markets and unfriendly oil exports is to use less oil.

In his statement, General Anderson noted:

 Senator Lugar’s legislation is misguided, and will not do anything to further the energy security of the United States. The Keystone XL pipeline will not reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil, or do anything to get us off oil completely, which is key to America’s national security future.  Much of the oil produced by Keystone won’t go right to American gas-tanks – it is to be exported, meaning we will need to import oil the same as before.“

The General is right – in fact, in a Congressional hearing TransCanada recently confirmed the findings of a recent study that concluded much of the oil on Keystone XL will go to the international diesel market once it gets to the Gulf. TransCanada’s Alex Pourbaix even refused to support legislation or agree to a condition requiring oil on Keystone XL to be used in the United States. Congressman Markey noted that if TransCanada was acting in good faith when it said Keystone XL will improve U.S. energy security and supply, the company would have no problem agreeing to such a condition. As Congressman Market concluded – this is going to be a tax-free conduit to Port Arthur to divert crude from the Midwestern United States on its way to the international market.  

General Anderson went on to say:  

Secondly, because this pipeline will not curb our dependence on oil, those nations that are hostile to us and seek to hurt us and our troops will still make billions of dollars every single day in oil profits.  It is time for us to get serious about the issue of Energy Security.  Building this pipeline isn’t a serious answer to the problem.  In fact, it only makes the problem worse.

General Anderson would know. He served as the Chief Logistician in Iraq and Afghanistan under General Petreaus where he was the first person to identify the connection between fuel conveys and American casualties in Iraq. He understands that tar sands do not enhance energy security simply because they come from a friendly neighbor. Continued reliance on oil empowers all countries that are major oil exporters. As the Canadian government itself notes, it does not influence the world price of oil and is a price taker, rather than a price maker. The only way to protect the United States from the vagaries of unfriendly exporters and volatility on the world oil market is to become independent from the oil exporters.

Clean energy technology is also the way to attain true energy independence while saving U.S. consumers money by reducing oil imports. On November 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation jointly proposed a set of rules for passenger cars and light trucks. Under the rules, 2017 to 2025 model year cars and light trucks would be required to achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon – reducing U.S. dependence on oil by 1.7 million barrels per day. That’s twice what Keystone XL would carry at full capacity.  Deeper cuts, nearly 7 million barrels per day, are possible by 2030. And of course, all of this will foster a clean car manufacturing industry, which already employs over 150,000 Americans, as the United States, that will provide a new  export market for the United States will decreasing the country’s crude oil imports. 

As General Anderson noted in a recent op-ed:

Becoming energy independent must be a top priority of the United States.  It certainly is for veterans like me.  TransCanada and its allies know this, and cynically play on our hopes by presenting the pipeline as a solution. Let’s not be fooled. The Keystone XL pipeline would perpetuate our deadly oil dependence and will not make us more secure.

Ret. Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson testifies in opposition of Keystone XL in Washington DC State Department hearings, October 6, 2011. Photo courtesy of Sierra Club / Javier Sierra 

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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 NRDC.org.

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