Keystone controversy: A three part series
The state of Oklahoma is an oil state with a unique problem. They have enough oil but not enough pipe to get it to market.
If it is approved, TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline Project could change that and help lift North American oil prices.
Rosemary Crawford, from the Center for Energy Matters, tries to whip up opposition to the proposed pipeline from her modest office in Oklahoma City.
Crawford believes importing more of what she calls "dirty Canadian oil" will be bad for Oklahoma's environment.
Crawford admits, it's a tough sell in a state rich with oil reserves of its own.
"I've been fighting this fight for the most part, pretty much alone," said Crawford.
To make matters worse, Oklahoma has already had a taste of the economic benefits from Keystone.
An auto dealership in Stillwater saw a big boost in sales last year as pipeline crews were in the area to push the first phase of the project through.
"It was their service work. We had a vehicle almost every day in our shop," said David Thomas, General Manager, Thomas Ford. "They drive a lot of the big heavier Ford trucks with the diesel engines."
Officially, the State of Oklahoma is backing the Keystone expansion.
"We have a unique problem now with North American supply," said Mike Ming, Secretary of Energy for the State of Oklahoma. "We've brought on more oil supply than we really have outlets to get it to market and it's tended to bottle up at Cushing."
Cushing Oklahoma is one of the largest crude storage facilities in the world.
Cushing is the prime delivery point for New York oil futures contracts and helps set the value of West Texas Intermediate, North America's benchmark oil price.
"The problem is, we've got too much oil in Cushing relative to our pipeline capacity to get it out to the Gulf Coast mainly, because that's where the majority of the United States refining capacity is," said Mike McDonald, the former Chair of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
Ironically, the problem began last February, when nearly half a million barrels of Canadian crude a day began flowing through the original Keystone Pipeline to tanks in Cushing.
Since then, the glut of oil in Cushing has depressed the price of West Texas Intermediate and widened the price gap with Brent Crude, Europe's more expensive oil benchmark, to record levels.
If it is approved, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline would link Cushing to refineries on the Gulf Coast with a 500,000 barrel-a-day spur line, helping to relieve the glut and the pressure on West Texas Intermediate.
However, that relief would only be temporary as eventually, Keystone XL would include a second leg from Alberta to Cushing which would increase the flow of oilsands crude yet again.