Saying no to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline across the Great Plains states would not change the demand for oil by one barrel nor would it lessen the impact of getting that oil out of the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province.

Despite the promise of alternative fuels and more fuel-efficient vehicles, and our need to develop them, demand for oil will remain high for several decades yet even in the most optimistic projections, here and in places such as China and India. And, given that demand and the Canadian government’s position, that oil is going to come out of the ground and be sent somewhere. What’s in question is where.

Building the pipeline does at least two things: It will provide thousands of jobs in the construction of the pipeline and many more thousands in ancillary jobs, and it provides a reliable supply of oil from a friendly neighbor. What’s a better supply line of oil? Tankers moving through the Strait of Hormuz or a pipeline that goes through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma to refineries in Texas?

For their part, environmentalists argue that drawing all the oil from Canada’s tar sands means “game over” for climate change. But building the pipeline does not mean all the oil has to be withdrawn nor does it preclude development of alternative fuel sources or developing technology to withdraw the oil more cleanly. And even in the worst-case scenario, extraction of all the oil in the tar sands would take so many years that any impact on climate change would be gradual, according to other experts.

But if the pipeline is not built, the oil will be shipped to the west by pipeline, train, truck or barge and then across oceans on tankers. That’s not a safer route.

The safest thing to do is build a pipeline and create the jobs and fuel security the nation needs.