At first, I assumed the reason for the pipeline was because the Texas refineries were the only ones equipped, or could be equipped, to process the sour tar sands crude oil, but I have since learned that many northern US refineries are already processing the Canadian tar sand crude. I recently read that 80 percent of the output from the proposed Keystone pipeline was committed to markets outside the United States, and that a second pipeline is planned which will take different route and double the Canadian crude output. Keystone has a third pipeline presently under construction that runs west across the Rockies and will be used to export tar sands crude to Asian markets.
So, the proposed Keystone pipelines that end in Texas will supply Canadian tar sand crude oil to the rest of the world. This is great for the multinational oil companies who are heavily invested in the Canadian tar sands, but probably not so great for the oil-consuming US citizen who expect their fuel costs to fall. I would argue that completing the Keystone pipeline to Texas will cause the price of the crude, and the gasoline and heating oil made from it, to rise and fall with the world markets.
Many argue for the Keystone project on the basis of the number of jobs it will create. The estimates vary wildly from 6 thousand to 200 thousand. I heard the latter estimate from an Oklahoma politician and the former from a US State Department representative. I tend to believe the former. The Keystone pipeline portion already completed used mostly Canadian, not US, workers. They used steel pipe imported from China and India. Some of the steel proved to be inferior and the resulting ruptures have lead to a number of spills.
In my opinion, the tar sands oil is not ready for prime time. The processing method is terribly hard on the environment. Future generations will likely view the Canadian project in the same way as we here in Oklahoma view our Tar Creek Super Fund debacle. Unfortunately, the scale of the Canadian effort is over 1,000 times larger in area than the Oklahoma one.
I don't see the Keystone Project as an appropriate political football. It should not be built.