Keystone XL Pipeline Could Mean Higher Gas Prices For Americans

The latest reason you could be paying more at the pump? That Keystone XL pipeline.

The controversial pipeline, which aims to move more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf, would boost gas prices as much as 20 cents per gallon in the Midwest, Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, Bloomberg reports. Another goal of the pipeline? A price increase for heavy Canadian cruel oil.

"The Canadian plan was to use their market power to raise prices in the United States and get more money from consumers," Philip Verleger, founder of energy consulting firm PK Verleger LLC, told Bloomberg.

TransCanada -- the company building the pipeline -- getting the go-ahead to construct it would only add to the many factors pushing Americans to pay more at the pump. Tensions in the Middle East may push gas prices up to $5 per gallon, according to The New York Times. In addition, gas prices typically go up in the spring. Money managers trading in oil futures can also help fuel price spikes.

The pipeline's construction has become a flash point among environmental activists and on the campaign trail. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has claimed that allowing the pipeline to be built would lower gas prices, while others contend it would create as many as 20,000 jobs, a number that has been the subject of massive debate. One of Santorum's rivals, Newt Gingrich, accused President Obama of "playing favorites with environmental extremists" by blocking construction of the pipeline (among other steps) instead of working to lower gas prices.

Obama fought back, saying during a speech last month that his policies weren't the reason Americans were paying more at the pump.

Still, the White House threw its support behind the decision to build part of the pipeline last month, though the White House stopped work on the cross-border part of the project in January until TransCanada works out a new route that avoids ecologically sensitive areas.