Kerry has shown a detailed grasp of issues surrounding the pipeline application during his initial meetings with State Department officials, according to individuals familiar with the sessions who asked not to be identified because Kerry has yet to be confirmed.
Officials are currently analyzing how several factors, including increased U.S. oil production and greater vehicle efficiency, affect the market analysis they prepared for their initial assessment of the project.
State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said that the draft assessment will be ready “in the near future” and that the department is conducting the permit review “in a rigorous, transparent and efficient manner, using existing analysis as appropriate.”
Supporters of the pipeline, such as Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, say it will produce jobs and enhance the nation’s energy supply.
“It once again boils down to a political decision by the White House: Will they follow what’s in the best interest of the country, or will they follow other political pressures?” Gerard asked.
The Consumer Energy Alliance analysis showing the benefits to Nebraska says the project would produce 1,343 jobs for two years in sectors that include pipeline and power line construction. It would inject more than half a billion into the economy during that time as TransCanada employed workers, bought land, compensated farmers for damaged crops, rented hotel rooms and installed pump stations and terminals, the study says. It also assumes the state will collect income tax not only from Nebraskans working in the state on the pipeline but also those Nebraskans working on portions of the project in Montana and South Dakota.
Harvard University environmental economist Robert Stavins wrote in an e-mail: “The general finding that there are financial benefits to residents of the state of Nebraska of construction of the pipeline is not surprising. The key question is whether the construction of the pipeline is in the long-term interest of the country as a whole, when all factors — financial and other impacts, including environmental ones — are considered.”