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Verify: Will 'opening' the Keystone Pipeline lower gas prices?

No, the Keystone XL Pipeline has not been constructed, meaning it won't lower prices at the pump.

MICHIGAN, USA — The war in Ukraine has put even more strain on world economies, giving no reprieve from the supply chain issues of the past two years. As nations continue to slap sanctions on the Kremlin and ban imports of Russian oil, the cost of crude oil and gas has skyrocketed. 13 ON YOUR SIDE viewers are asking if there's any sign of hope, or ways to stop the bleeding as prices at the pump keep growing.

THE QUESTION

Will re-opening the Keystone Pipeline lower gas prices? 

THE SOURCES

  • Dr. Matthew Ross - Former Sunoco Project Engineer, currently a professor with Western Michigan University
  • Jason Geer - President and CEO of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No. The Keystone XL Pipeline is not completed, therefore turning it on isn't possible. It won't lower prices at the pump any time soon. 

Here's what our sources say:

"The keystone pipeline is actually a couple of different segments, some of which are currently operating," said Dr. Ross. "Most likely your caller was referring to the Keystone XL."

There's some common misunderstanding about what the Keystone Pipeline actually is. In Canada, starting in the Alberta Tar Flats, oil pipelines run to deliver oil and transport it all over Canada. The Keystone XL Pipeline is an extension of that Canadian pipeline that would run through the United States to transport oil faster than overland hauling such as freight trains or trucking. 

The Keystone XL Pipeline was the source of controversy largely centered in South Dakota over both construction on land owned by indigenous populations, and the environmental impact of the project and the pipeline. 

Construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline resumed under former President Donald Trump, but was halted by President Joe Biden. 

RELATED: Keystone pipeline canceled after Biden had blocked permit

"It is not built. It cannot be started," said Ross. "It would take some years of engineering and construction in order for that to be put into place, so potentially a long term supplement to oil within North America, but not something that can be just flipped on quickly."

Both Ross and Geer agree that Keystone XL is not a magic solution to the high gas prices we're experiencing now. They do, however, think that if it were to be finished in the future, it could provide some relief.

"When you look at gas prices, what drives that is the market price," said Geer. "Market price is very high right now and it’s been rising for quite a while. There’s lots of different reasons for that, but it’s a supply and demand."

Geer says the war in Ukraine is largely to blame for the market price rising, but it's hardly the only factor. Even though Russia holds a not insignificant amount of the world's oil, Geer says much of the price increase has been reactionary to sanctions and import bans rather than caused by supply truly running lower.

"The Keystone Pipeline itself," Geer said, "it will increase supply. When that supply would happen and how much it would be will have to be determined at that time."

So for now, we can verify — the Keystone Pipeline is not the solution to high gas prices.

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