Last week, the State Department released a report on the potential environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline designed to bring crude from the Canadian oil sands to American refineries.

The report wasn’t published by the oil industry or some conservative, pro-business think tank. It was issued by the State Department of a Democratic president.

A key part of the report found that “approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed (Keystone XL pipeline), remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.”

In other words, the oil is coming out of the ground no matter what. This has important implications for the current debate in South Portland because the activists leading the fight against oil sands are unilaterally opposed to any development of that energy reserve.

If the oil is coming out of the ground no matter what, I would like it to be transported using the safest and most efficient technologies.

As luck would have it, one of the safest pipelines in America is based in my hometown. They’ve been an excellent corporate citizen for decades and provide significant economic benefit to my community.

As a captain and maritime consultant, I’ve seen first-hand the powerful economic benefits our region receives from our port. These are high-skill, high-wage jobs that require math, science and technology training – the kind of jobs every expert says we should be creating for Maine’s future.

And yet, here we are attacking the maritime industry and threatening the pipeline’s survival.

To what end? To stop oil that is going to be produced anyway? To shut down one of the safest pipelines in America? To trade high-skill, high-wage maritime jobs for low-wage, seasonal jobs catering to people from away?

We are residents of South PORTland. Our port has played a critical role in our prosperity since this region was settled. We should be proud of our port, and embrace the opportunity to be a leader in promoting our nation’s economic and energy security.

Capt. Bill Van Voorhis

South Portland resident

President, Eastcoast Maritime Solutions

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