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Miles traveled: 896.
After Buffalo, we traveled to Rapid City to chat with local supporters. After going to see Mount Rushmore—it was breathtaking—we drove to Murdo, South Dakota, home town of Senator John Thune (R-SD) and spent the night. The next morning after a hearty breakfast—pancakes, eggs, and bacon for me—with local pipeline supporters, we drove to Winner.
Winner is a South Dakota town of 3,000 and is popular with pheasant hunters from all over the country who visit every fall.
Over a lunch of hamburgers and sandwiches, local business leaders and community officials told us about the lost opportunities for economic development in their area because of the pipeline’s delay.
According to John Meyer, owner of Office Products Center, the Keystone XL pipeline “would be a good economic shot in the arm” for Winner. “So many times we are bypassed due to no interstate, not enough power, no natural gas, employee base, and so on.”
He explained that the pipeline’s pump stations will need a lot of electricity, and transmission lines will be brought in to accommodate that demand. Those lines will let Winner market itself to other industries that also rely on them. The area will be able to “add wind farms now that we have the transmission line” Meyer said, “increasing the property tax base and creating permanent jobs.”
In 2012, Meyer testified about the pipeline before the Senate on behalf of the U.S. Chamber.
Federal government estimates that Winner and Tripp County will see $3.4 million in new property tax revenue in the first year of the pipeline’s operation.
“On a local level, what could a million dollars do for our county, schools, library, etc.? On a state level, what could it do for improvements, teachers’ pay?” Meyer asked
Another lost opportunity from the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline has hit farmers, some of whom are finding it difficult to ship their grain.
Tom Kauer, president of the South Central Development Corporation, told us that as more Canadian oil travels by rail, less grain can be moved. “Millions of bushels are sitting on the ground,” he said.
What's more, without the Keystone XL pipeline, there are plans to put more Canadian oil on trains. “We don’t have the rail for more trains,” worries Winner Mayor Jess Keesis.
As you can see, people in Winner know what opportunities for economic development have been lost by the pipeline’s six-year delay. But they remain optimistic.
How couldn’t you in a place called, “Winner?”