The Keystone XL pipeline has been called the most studied pipeline project in history. It’s also arguably the most popular.
With its 42,000 jobs and capacity to significantly enhance American energy security, Keystone has become a household name on the strength of its merits. Polls have consistently shown support running at 70% or above, plus majority support across the political spectrum.
The key is sustaining support and keeping the public engaged during the course of more than five years of review and five positive environmental assessments.
The American Petroleum Institute has turned the approval process into an effective message. Since five-year anniversaries are usually commemorated with gifts of wood, we marked the fifth year of Keystone’s review by sending jumbo-sized pencils to Capitol Hill emblazoned with the text "KXL delay: 5 years and counting."
On our social platforms, we posted infographics showing examples of projects that have been built in less than five years, such as Hoover Dam and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Our Keystone ad campaign drives home the broad bipartisan appeal of the pipeline. Launched in July 2013, the Who Supports effort of television, print, and online ads features images and quotes from a long list of Keystone backers, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Clinton, to editorial boards including The Wall Street Journal.
The ads have run in Washington, DC, and in lawmakers’ home districts during congressional recess periods ensuring that decision-makers can’t escape public support for the project.
Support is strong in the labor community, whose continuing struggles with high unemployment could benefit significantly from Keystone construction.
The institute has also hosted events with leaders from Laborers’ International Union of North America and the Building and Construction Trades Department to remind the administration that its staunchest allies are committed to Keystone approval.
Veterans have also rallied to the cause. In March, volunteer veterans from 19 states came to DC to emphasize the national security advantages of obtaining more of our US energy supply.
Now that a decision is delayed yet again, focus returns to congressional action. But, the strategy remains the same: Reminding Washington that strong support makes Keystone XL approval the easiest decision they could make this election year.
Linda Rozett is VP of comms at the American Petroleum Institute.