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Rear Admiral Donald Loren said the Keystone XL pipeline would help the United States fulfill its energy needs.

A national energy expert says the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would help revive a sluggish national economy and enhance the nation’s energy security.

Donald P. Loren, a retired rear admiral with the U.S. Navy and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Security Integration, says the pipeline would enable the United States to fulfill its energy needs without buying oil from unstable parts of the world.

Recent national polls indicate that nearly two-thirds of Americans support the construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,700-mile, $5.4 billion project to transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

Loren is in Billings this week to address the pipeline’s role in national energy security during a discussion today as part of the Montana Energy 2014. The luncheon meeting, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., takes place at the MetraPark Expo Center. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox will join Loren.

Energy industry officials are urging President Obama to give a green light to the pipeline, despite strong opposition from environmental groups who worry that the pipeline could cause environmental damage and would accelerate greenhouse gas emissions.

Loren sees the Keystone XL pipeline as a way to enhance the nation’s energy security.

“As we have seen over the years, our energy needs, and the ability to ensure the free access to energy, has been a factor of how we deploy and use our forces,” Loren said Monday. “Rather than depend on oil from the (Persian) Gulf states and Venezuela, or other nations that may not have similar values, we should focus on that continental security of Canada.”

The Keystone XL pipeline would extend through Eastern Montana, and is designed to include an on-ramp near Baker to allow Bakken oil from Montana and North Dakota to move to Gulf Coast refineries.

Loren will also talk about Veterans for Energy, a volunteer organization that works to help veterans find jobs in the energy sector.

“We like to say that we represent the 23 million American veterans,” Loren said. “Our message is that sound energy policies are critical to sound national security.”

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