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Clinton Reveals Opposition, Has Plan

Friday, September 25, 2015

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton revealed her stance on the Keystone XL Pipeline this week, once again bringing to light the debate over the long-running pipeline plan.

On Tuesday (Sept. 22), Clinton came out against the 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

The project plan, which has been on the books since 2008, was placed on hold in February following a presidential veto but remains under his administration’s review.

Clinton, who had remained cagey regarding her position on the project throughout her campaign, made her views known when answering a question posed by Drake University student, the National Journal reported.

In a transcription of comments released by her campaign, Clinton’s response was: “I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone Pipeline as what I believe it is—a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change, and unfortunately, from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with all the other issues. Therefore, I oppose it.”

While her stance pleases environmentalists, it does not speak to labor unions and other pipeline proponents. The Amer­ic­an Pet­ro­leum In­sti­tute, for one, shared its disappointment in her announcement.

“Hil­lary Clin­ton’s de­cision to op­pose Key­stone is a missed op­por­tun­ity to seize the true po­ten­tial of our en­ergy renais­sance,” Jack Ger­ard, API’s pres­id­ent told the Journal. “It is most un­for­tu­nate for Amer­ic­an work­ers and con­sumers that she has joined the forces of delay and deni­al.”

Pipeline Support by the Numbers

The majority of registered voters—68 percent—support the Keystone XL project, according to an American Petroleum Institute survey. In API figures shared in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce site Above the Fold, the pipeline has the backing of 91 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Independents and 52 percent of Democrats.

Additional API poll results were posted in API’s Energy Tomorrow blog:

  • 78 percent agree construction of Keystone XL would strengthen U.S. economic security through job creation and keeping those jobs and energy dollars in North America.
  • 78 percent agree Keystone XL would provide U.S. refineries with a stable supply of oil from North America.
  • 76 percent agree that construction would benefit the U.S. by increasing supply from North America instead of other global regions.
  • 67 percent agree that XL approval would make the U.S. more of a global energy power and help U.S. foreign policy.
  • 66 percent said they would more likely back a candidate who is in favor of the Keystone XL.

Construction of the pipeline, as reported in Above the Fold, would bring the U.S.:

  • 42,100 new direct and indirect jobs;
  • A $3.4 billion injection into to the economy; and
  • $55.6 million in annual property taxes in the first year of operation.

The Hillary Plan

Clinton is not against increasing investment in energy infrastructure, however.

On Wednesday (Sept. 23), Clinton revealed her strategy to modernize the U.S. energy infrastructure, The Hill reported.

By United States Department of State via Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton followed up her announced opposition of the Keystone XL Pipeline with her own plan to modernize the U.S. energy infrastructure.

She published a statement explaining her Keystone XL opposition, with a focus on climate change and potential health, safety and environmental impacts, and introducing her infrastructure update plan on the blogging site Medium.

In her opinion, her approach would be a better way to create lasting jobs, be reliable and affordable, and, by not focusing on fossil fuels, would be better for the environment.

Clinton wrote: “We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities—we should be focused on what it will take to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.

“For too long, the Keystone XL pipeline has been a distraction from the real challenges facing our energy sector—and the job-creating investments that we should be making to meet them. Building a clean, secure, and affordable North American energy future is bigger than Keystone XL or any other single project.”

A fact sheet on the Clinton campaign website details the scope of the plan. It addresses three areas: making the energy infrastructure safer and cleaner, unlocking new investment resources, creating a North American Climate Compact.

The safety aspect includes:

  • Modernizing the nation’s oil, natural gas and propane pipeline system;
  • Increasing rail safety for oil transport;
  • Enhancing grid security; and
  • Unlocking new investment resources.

The Clinton investment plan includes:

  • Setting up a National Infrastructure Bank;
  • Awarding competitive grants through the Clean Energy Challenge;
  • Accelerating investment by speeding up the federal infrastructure review and permitting process;
  • Expanding consumer choice;
  • Helping communities repair and replace pipelines through a “Pipeline Partnership”;
  • Investing in improved transportation solutions; and
  • Increasing investment in R&D innovation.

The North American Climate Compact would set “ambitious national targets,” coordinate policy approaches and institute strong accountability measures related to the group’s goals.

According to The Hill, many of these elements have either already been considered by the current administration or are improvements on existing polices.

The Pipeline Journey

The Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil sands crude (also known as tar sands crude) from Canada to Texas for refining. The 875-mile segment of line from Alberta to Steele City, NE, requires a Presidential Permit to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

TransCanada Corporation

According to an American Petroleum Institute poll, 68 percent of registered voters support construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The pipeline's bipartisan backers say the project has been exhaustively evaluated and would provide jobs and energy security.

Pipeline owner TransCanada has accepted dozens of federal conditions attached to the project and has rerouted the line away from the most environmentally sensitive areas.

Environmentalists and other critics call the project both unnecessary and environmentally risky. The system would carry tar-sands crude, which is reported to be heavier and more corrosive than regular "sweet" crude.

Project foes also question TransCanada's operating record. The first 1,300 miles of the Keystone system saw 14 leaks and spills in the first 14 months of operation.

In February, President Obama blocked the Republican bill that would have advanced the proposal, leaving the project in limbo.

In March, the Senate attempted to override the president’s veto but failed to reach the required two-thirds majority.

Since February, the proposal has been under review by the U.S. State Department.

TransCanada CEO Russ Girling intends to pursue federal approval to build Keystone XL, even if Obama rejects it, the Journal reported Tuesday.

“Our focus remains on securing a permit to build Keystone XL. 17,000 pages of scientific study have concluded that Keystone XL would have minimal impact on the environment,” TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata told the site.


Tagged categories: Environmental Protection; Health and safety; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Pipelines; Program/Project Management

Comment from David Lemke, (10/1/2015, 4:16 AM)

My first question would be, why hasn't an oil refining company come forward to build a refinery closer to the source of the raw material? Finished by products of refining has to be shipped from the gulf coast just as it would be at a refinery located closer to the source. The next thing is that it costs much more to refine oil sands crude than the sweeter crude that has been found in the Dakota oil fields. When oil prices were very low, some of the oil sands pumping shut down because the expense to refine it could not be cost effect as sweeter crude. I would image that the word “sands” would make this material much more abrasive to move through a pipeline as well. The other item to be investigated is this just a cheaper way to line the pockets of the gulf coast refineries verses building a refinery closer to the source. Then what happens what happens when oil prices are low and the crude is not cost effective again? I do believe the world needs to go to greener energy sources but in the meantime we need cheaper oil prices to have a robust economy to fund the costs in the devolvement of greener technology. I am not opposed or for the pipeline, but some questions need to be answered first.

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