Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Wednesday argued that President Obama needs to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline because of the crisis in Ukraine.
While one component of the drama in the region is over natural gas supplies tied to Russia, Ukraine is not actually in need of the oil that would be produced by building the Keystone pipeline. According to the Energy Information Administration, “Only a relatively small portion of the country’s total consumption is accounted for by petroleum and other liquid fuels.” And, since the Keystone XL pipeline would take years to build, there’s virtually no chance that it would be of use for the escalating Ukrainian crisis even if oil were in play.
But that didn’t stop Ryan from arguing that building the pipeline would send a “signal that America is open for energy business.”
“I think we should move forward on natural gas exports very quickly,” Ryan said when asked what Congress can do to alleviate the crisis. “I think we should approve an LNG [liquefied natural gas] terminal on the East Coast to go to Europe. I think we should approve the Keystone pipeline. I think we should show the U.S. is moving forward on becoming energy independent and supplying energy to Europe–”
CNN host Kate Bolduan responded incredulously. “Moving forward with the Keystone pipeline? That development would take years, though, to actually make that happen.”
“The signal,” Ryan pushed back, “Kate, the signal that America is open for energy business and America will be helping our allies with energy resources so that they can be less dependent on Russian energy resources. The signal is very important.”
Ryan’s argument that building the pipeline would “signal” American energy independence is rendered moot by the fact that the tar sands oil that would travel through the Keystone XL pipeline is actually Canadian, not American. On top of that, because tar sands oil takes so much energy to extract, develop, and refine, the fuel isn’t actually an efficient way of producing energy for Europe. Not only does it leave behind the dirtier-than-coal byproduct petcoke, it is likely that much of it would end up going to countries like China.