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Keystone XL Won't Replace Iranian Oil

Once again, Big Oil and their supporters are trying to use unrest in the Middle East as an excuse to justify the risky and unecessary Keystone XL pipeline.

This week, in response to economic sanctions attempting to curb Iran’s nuclear threat, Iranian military officials have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a major overseas shipping route for much of the Middle East’s oil.

In an article in the New York Times, oil-industry consultant Daniel Yergin was quoted as saying that closing the strait would “add a whole new dimension to the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline.” Yergin has also argued on TransCanada and Big Oil’s behalf that the Keystone XL is vital for the U.S.’s national energy security, an argument that has been debunked by many, including our own Jane Kleeb in a Congressional hearing earlier this month as well a detailed report by Oil Change International and members of the military.

This “whole new dimension” Yergin mentions is really just a tired talking point that TransCanada and their Koch-funded, Big Oil backers at Americans for Prosperity and front-group Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence have been parroting for months now. You’ve heard the lie many times: Canadian crude pumped through Keystone XL would eliminate our dependence on Middle East oil supplies.

The truth of the matter is that TransCanada’s diluted bitumen pipeline, carrying tar sands and toxic chemicals through America’s heartland to Texas refineries, is an export pipeline, and none of the petroleum products derived from its contents are guaranteed to be filling American gas tanks. As mentioned before, this fact was confirmed by TransCanada’s own Alex Pourbaix in a Congressional hearing and is one that Keystone critics all over the globe have known since the project’s inception.

In reality, closing the Hormuz strait hurts Iran more than it hurts anyone else, and when it comes to disrupting oil supplies, it is Asia, not the U.S., that will be most affected by blocking Mideast oil. An article on MSNBC states that “About three-quarters of Japan’s oil imports and about 50 percent of China’s pass through this strait.” Indeed, according to a Bloomburg article that states that “Iran’s best customer is China, which took about 22 percent of Tehran’s oil exports during the first half of this year,” and is “one of the few nations on friendly terms with the Islamic Republic,” which illustrates the real connection between Hormuz and Keystone XL: that they are merely two sides of a love triangle, the other side of which is China’s oil consumption.

Regarding closing Hormuz, claiming U.S. energy independence is simply a scam by Big Oil and an excuse to build Keystone XL. The real reason a Hormuz closing would in any way necessitate the Keystone XL is to bail China out of a tar sands jam. If Iran were to close Hormuz, all the Chinese-owned tar sands in Alberta would suddenly be more valuable to the Chinese economy, and China would need the export-driven KXL to access tar sands-derived petroleum products. Simply put, the threat of Hormuz closure merely shines a brighter spotlight on Keystone XL, showing its true colors as a conduit for foreign oil to be sent to foreign lands at the expense of land, water, and communities in middle America.

If any pipeline promotes energy stability, it is one that has already been built. No–not the Keystone 1 (I’ll get to that later), but the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline (ADCOP), which bypasses the Strait of Hormuz altogether on its way to the Fujairah coast. ADCOP will allow Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and other Mideast oil-producing countries to efficiently access shipping points on the Arabian Sea. ADCOP is ready for operation and has the capability to begin bypassing the Strait of Hormuz very soon, which lessens the effectiveness of Iran’s threat to close Hormuz.

Another pipeline that has already been built that could offset Iranian oil is the Keystone 1. Already in operation, Keystone 1 is operating at 75% of its capacity. In addition to that, Keystone 1 in its current state is not an export pipeline, but brings Canadian oil into the American Midwest, where we enjoy relatively lower gas prices than other parts of the country due to the surplus at Cushing, OK. If Keystone XL were built, bypassing Midwestern refineries and taking tar sands to Texas gulf export areas, not only would we be playing right into China’s hands, but gas prices in the Midwest could increase–profit-boosting results that Big Oil would love to see happen.

Contrary to the arguments of TransCanada, AFP, Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence and the Koch-funded, Big-Oil backers in Washington, the Keystone XL pipeline will not offset Iranian oil. Only a healthy combination of conservation and home-grown energy is ever going to rid us from our addiction to fossil fuels, a goal that military leaders, presidents and politicians from all parties claim we must do for true energy security.

Our message to TransCanada, middle America will not be your middle man. Stop using false claims that your scam of a pipeline will bring us energy security. All is does is risk our land and water while taking away rights of American landonwers. 

ACTION: You can help by writing to President Obama and urge him to deny the pipeline.

The White House
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

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