Associated Industries submits 24K petitions supporting Keystone pipeline

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Florida business interests submitted more than 24,000 individual petitions today calling on President Barack Obama to approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Associated Industries of Florida joined the Consumer Energy Alliance in presenting 24,283 public comments from Florida residents supporting the creation of the controversial oil pipeline. If approved, Keystone XL could circulate as much as 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Steele City, Nebraska, Wood River and Patoka, Illinois, and the Gulf Coast of Texas.

The petition is part of a nationwide grassroots effort, driven by economic and national security reasons, which boasts over 400,000 supporters in all 50 states. 

Keystone XL Pipeline received approval from Canada’s National Energy Board in 2010, but the plan is waiting on a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of State — expected to arrive within the next few days — because it crosses an international border.

“Dependable and affordable energy is the lifeblood of manufacturing,” said Brewster Bevis, Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs of the Associated Industries of Florida. “We support the Keystone XL Pipeline because it will supply reliable, affordable supplies of energy to millions of consumers across the United States. As a large, energy-consuming state, Florida needs projects like Keystone XL.”

AIF and other pipeline supporters believe the U.S. should push for continued energy independence, citing outside forces like winter weather and the continual disruption in foreign hotspots like Venezuela, Ukraine and the Middle East, which result in price spikes.

“Keystone XL will displace energy from our enemies for energy from our ally,” said Kevin Doyle, Executive Director for Florida branch of the Consumer Energy Alliance. “Energy prices are influenced by global events. Transforming North America into energy self-sufficiency dampens the price spikes caused by upheaval overseas. The comments we are submitting today from thousands of Floridians reflect what people across the country are saying: We need jobs, we need a stronger economy, and we need to build the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Those who signed the petition assert that technological advances will make the 2,151-mile pipeline the safest ever built in the United States, by utilizing 59 safety measures beyond what is required by federal law. Construction will help create more than 42,000 jobs nationwide and 9,000 construction jobs building the pipeline, with $20 billion in new economic development. 

Opponents of Keystone XL, such as the environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation, say the pipeline will slice through America’s agricultural heartland — the Missouri, Platte, and Niobrara Rivers, the Ogallala aquifer, which are habitats for sage grouse and sandhill cranes, walleye fisheries and more.

They argue that supplies and croplands will be at risk of dangerous tar sands oil spills, such as the 2010 million-gallon Enbridge spill in Michigan, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.