Created: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 06:34:00 CST
Updated: Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:35:40 CST
Is the Keystone XL pipeline a matter of national security?
Thursday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony about the project.
Some say the crisis in Crimea is proof our nation should support the pipeline.
"This current crisis serves as one more example of how tension and rivalry plays out in conflicts across the international landscape." Said James Jones, President of Jones Group International.
James Jones says energy security is crucial to global stability, and the pipeline is a major step to ensuring the US remains a global superpower.
"If we want to make Mr. Putin's day and strengthen his hand, we should reject the Keystone." Said Jones.
Those against the pipeline echo a message we hear from protesters here in the heartland.
Saying toxic crude oil will carve through more than 1,000 miles of American farms and ranches.
"One tarsand spill in Michigan filled more than 35 miles of river. After three and a half years and more than a billion dollars, it still has not been cleaned up." Said Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club.
Brune says a Keystone XL spill would be catastrophic.
He and fellow opponent, Dr. James Hansen argue that energy independence does not rely on the pipeline, but instead on clean energy.
"The science is crystal clear. If we want to avoid leaving young people a climate system that's spiraling out of control, the additional fuel burned must be less than that already burned. That means we must phase out coal burning and leave fossil fuels in the ground." Said Dr. Hansen, a climate scientist.
Karen Alderman Harbert with the Institute of the 21st Century sided with Jones.
Arguing that by 2040, 80% of the world's energy will still come from fossil fuels.
"We can choose to embellish the legacy of Hugo Chavez, or ignore the geopolitical manipulation of energy. Or we can choose to have a secure and stable supply of oil from Canada." Said Harbert.
One issue all of the committee members agreed on, climate change requires action, but the panel disagreed on whether or not the pipeline is a factor.
President Obama said recently he was nearing a decision on the pipeline.