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Exxon Mobil's CEO, government ignores technology advances within energy sector

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April 22, the 43 annual Earth Day, was the last day the Obama administration considered public input for the Keystone XL pipeline, and also the day some environmental groups warned President Obama that an approval of the project would result in massive civil disobedience. The fiercely debated pipeline would transport heavy crude oil from Alberta, Canada, south through the U.S heartland to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

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"The Keystone XL pipeline would be a disaster, from start to finish", Michael Marx, Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign Director said in an email Friday. "Tar sands oil is toxic for our climate, and mining the tar sands destroy pristine forests and threatens First Nation peoples. Once the crude oil is in the pipeline, the threat would run through our communities. We don't need to wonder what the impact would be, because we've seen it three times in the last few weeks in Arkansas, Texas, and Canada"

In 2008 TransCanada filed its first application with the U.S State Department to start building the project, a requirement for building any cross-border pipeline, and in 2012 a second application. The company also decided to go ahead with the southern part of the pipeline, the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project, as the southern portion does not require presidential approval.

Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson addressing the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth at a luncheon Thursday, said the government ignores technology innovation and new risk management techniques within the energy sector, and now it is time to challenge old ways of thinking rooted in the notion that we must ration scarcity.

" The State Department found twice that the Keystone XL pipeline was safe, still it was delayed", Mr. Tillerson said, adding that the energy sector needs the support of public policies so the industry can continue building on the success and promote innovation for decades to come. "Sources of oil and natural gas once dismissed as uneconomic and inaccessible are now reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible contributors to our global energy portfolio. In Canada, for instance, we are deploying new technologies and techniques that are enabling the development of that nation’s vast oil sands. This resource base now has the potential to provide approximately 170 billion recoverable barrels – enough energy to fuel today’s North American personal vehicle fleet for almost 45 years."

So the same way computers have become smaller and more powerful, calculators cheaper, cell phones more intelligent, innovation can expand energy supplies. Since 2008, U.S natural gas production is up by 19 percent, and domestic oil production has risen by close to 30 percent.

"Thanks to these new technologies" Tillerson said. "The United States has not only reversed a more than 25-year decline in oil output, we are now the world’s fastest growing hydrocarbon region. In Texas, the industry’s multiplier effect has had a particularly strong influence on job creation. Recent economic studies find that new oil and natural gas production has created 576,000 jobs, with about one million direct and indirect jobs predicted by 2020".

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Caroline is also Dallas Public Policy Examiner.

Copyright April 23, 2013, Caroline Calais. All rights are reserved.

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