The political and environmental debates swirling around the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas miss a crucial point, energy analysts say: The Canadian oil is needed to replace fast-dwindling production from two other major suppliers of oil — Mexico and Venezuela.

The United States remains the largest consumer of oil in the world, requiring more than 8 million barrels a day of fuel imports to feed its appetite, with nearly half of that coming from oil-rich neighbors in Latin America as recently as 2005.

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