U.S. Chamber says Canadian pipeline could bring Michigan 3,000 jobs

Posted on September 29, 2011

Michigan business organizations and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce group launched an effort Wednesday to persuade the Obama administration to approve the building of a Canadian oil pipeline into the United States that they said would create more fuel supplies and jobs.

The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy joined with groups such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Food & Beverage Association to form a “Partnership to Fuel America.”

The U.S. Chamber’s energy institute cites a study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute finding the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta province into the United States would create nearly 3,000 jobs in Michigan by 2020.

The proposed $13 billion pipeline by TransCanada would pump crude oil through a 36-inch, 1,660-mile underground pipeline that would begin at Hardisty, Alberta, and eventually reach key U.S. refinery areas in Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

The chamber’s energy institute launched Wednesday’s “education and engagement” campaign in seven Midwestern states including Michigan because they will be heavily affected by the development of the pipeline and future refining of oil sands into fuel, said Matt Letourneau, director of communications and media at the energy institute.

The chamber and its allies want to energize the “silent majority in the business community” to push for approval of the project and future Canadian oil development, Letourneau said.

Environmentalists have lobbied against the proposal.

“We’re looking at a pipeline that will strengthen a crippling reliance on imported oil,” said Hugh McDiarmid Jr., director of communications for the Michigan Environmental Council, which opposes the pipeline. “The Canadian tar sands oil that would be carried by the pipeline is shamefully environmentally destructive, increasingly expensive and an anchor on Americans’ efforts to create a more vibrant, diverse set of energy options.”

“Recent events, including the oil pipeline break in the Kalamazoo River, have demonstrated the significant hazards of crude oil pipelines and their destructive impact on the economies of local communities.”

The international project requires the approval of the U.S. State Department, which has indicated it will make a decision by the end of the year.

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate approved a resolution earlier this month supporting the construction of the pipeline and increased importation of Canadian oil sands, which take more effort to refine but provide a large source of future reserves. It awaits action in the GOP-dominated state House of Representatives.

“I’d rather work with our Canadian partners to get this oil than turn to other foreign oil importers,” said state Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, who sponsored the resolution.

The pipeline helps to deal with the state’s “continual struggle to find ways in public policy to create new energy production,” he said.
(Detroit News)