A varied group of Hispanic leaders is calling on the U.S. State Department to issue a permit that will allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built and operated.
Support for the pipeline, along with impatience about how long the process is taking, is being expressed by leaders from Hispanic organizations, including veterans, business, professional, trade, grassroots and other groups.
"Keystone XL is an important project for America's future, and it's important to the Hispanic community, America's fastest-growing population and business segment," said Saul Valentin, national chairman of the National Hispanic Professionals Organization.
Hispanic leaders say America's energy security, economy and environment are all reasons they have joined together to urge the U.S. Department of State to move the project forward.
The U.S. Department of Energy says Keystone XL Pipeline would allow the U.S. to reduce America's dependence on oil from Venezuela and the Middle East by as much as 40 percent.
"The oil Keystone XL will deliver is conflict-free oil from nearby, friendly sources," said Gil Rodriguez, CEO of the American GI Forum of Texas, a Hispanic-based veterans organization. "The turmoil in the Middle East and dollar-per-gallon price increase over the past year show how important it is to get this pipeline permitted and built," Rodriguez added.
Jobs and the Economy
More than $7 billion of private capital will be spent building Keystone XL. Independent studies conducted by economist Dr. M. Ray Perryman concluded that spending will stimulate creation of 118,000 full-time-equivalent jobs during construction. Once in operation, the stability Keystone XL adds to U.S. oil markets will stimulate at least 250,000 permanent jobs, and probably more if oil prices remain high, according to Dr. Perryman.
"The administration can create hundreds of thousands of jobs with the stroke of a pen, all fueled by private capital without a cent of taxpayer money. Approval of Keystone XL is an important project for Hispanics and everyone else who is trying to find work, feed their families and help get the economy back on track," said Jose Nino, Board Co-Chair of the Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute (HAP Institute).
Hispanic unemployment is more than 30 percent higher than that of the general population, according to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
Environment and Safety
From an environmental and safety standpoint, the Department of State's Draft Environmental Impact Statement said the project would have minimal environmental impact, and its recent year-long Supplemental study found nothing to change that conclusion.
"Pipelines are widely known to be the safest, most environmentally sound way to transport oil," said Jose Marquez, national president of LISTA, the Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association. "The fact that Keystone XL will allow 200 tankers to be taken off the high seas each year is a great environmental plus, as well," Marquez added.
Important for Hispanics
"Keystone XL is very important to the Hispanic community. It offers shovel-ready jobs and checkbook-ready business opportunities," said Rosa Navejar, President of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "The economic impact of this project will not only provide jobs and contracting opportunities in states from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast, but it will also provide states, school districts and localities all along the route with much-needed tax revenues," Navejar added.
Dr. Perryman's study concluded that almost 23,000 of the jobs stimulated by construction expenditures are likely to be held by Hispanic workers. In addition, the pipeline will need 13,000 skilled workers for good-paying jobs during construction, and industry sources say almost 40 percent of pipeline construction workers are Hispanic.
"A large share of the jobs this project creates and stimulates will be held by Hispanic workers," Nino said.
Dr. Perryman's study also concluded that the Keystone XL also offers "notable opportunities to Hispanic-owned firms."
No More Delay
The Department of State began studying the Keystone XL permit application in 2008. It has recently said it expects to make a decision before the end of the year. But the Department of State's schedule has been delayed at least once before, "and we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," said Tony Morales, past national commander of American GI Forum.
"Keystone can stimulate more employment opportunities for our returning warriors, and employment eliminates some of the stress felt by our veterans and their families. It is important this happen as soon as possible, since we believe unemployment contributes to the suicide rate among returning veterans," said Tony Morales, past national commander of American GI Forum.
"Squeaky-wheel interest groups have already caused the State Department extend their study. We need to make sure that doesn't happen again. The safety and environmental soundness of the pipeline have been thoroughly established. We need the State Department to move ahead with this permit," AGIF's Rodriguez added.
"A delayed permit means delayed jobs. Our economy is stalled in a jobless recovery. We need leadership from Washington to get jobs to the people, and the Keystone XL project will do that in a big way," Valentin said.
Founded in 1948 in Texas, the American GI Forum is a major force working to protect and advance the rights and interests of Hispanic veterans and support the men and women in the U.S. armed services. As part of its mission, AGIF is a strong advocate for programs and policies that enhance our nation's security and promote the interests of Hispanic veterans.
The HAP Institute is a nationwide grassroots action organization whose mission is to help Hispanics from all walks of life speak for themselves on issues affecting their chance at the American dream. Through research, public education and advocacy — and by relying heavily on input from Hispanic leaders and members — the HAP Institute is a powerful voice on behalf of hope and opportunity for Hispanic Americans.
LISTA promotes the utilization of the technology sectors for the empowerment of the Latino community. We are an organization that is committed to bringing various elements of Technology under one central hub to facilitate our partners, members and the community with the leverage and education they need to succeed in a highly advanced technologically driven society. LISTA Mission is to educate, motivate and encourage the use of technology in the Latino community and empowering them to bridge the digital divide.
The National Hispanic Professional Organization is a rapidly growing organization whose members represent the full spectrum of businesses and professions in which Hispanics are engaged. Since its founding in 2004, NHPO has been a strong advocate for programs and policies that enhance our nation's economic growth and opportunities in which Hispanic professionals and businesses can participate.