What Are the Pros and Cons of the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline cite energy security, economic growth and jobs as pros for its extension in the United States. Those advocating against extending the pipeline raise issues of environmental impact, including pollution of water, increased likelihood of oil spills and increased carbon dioxide emissions.

Proponents say the pipeline enhances energy security by reducing the country's reliance on imported oil by 40 percent. They posit that the United States' demand for oil is set to continue at the current level of 15 billion barrels per day, 60 percent of which is imported oil, through 2035. Proponents project the positive impact of the pipeline on the country's gross domestic product over the same period at $45 billion per year, including the addition of 42,000 new jobs.

The other side argues that the tar-sands oil transported through the pipeline is highly acidic and corrosive, increasing the risk of spills. Spills of tar-sands oil are harder to remedy because it sinks rather than floats. They also cite concerns with the extraction process, which requires three barrels of water per barrel of oil, leaving tailing pools of contaminated water. Those against the pipeline contend that carbon dioxide emissions from the extraction process required to produce the projected 830,000 barrels per day are equivalent to putting another 5.6 million cars on the road.