Six years ago next week, the first federal permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline was submitted. What should have been a calm, mundane discussion about a piece of energy infrastructure has fueled controversy and one embarrassing delay after another.
After reading an NBC News story earlier this year on rural towns in Montana anxiously waiting for pipeline construction to start, I wanted to see for myself what the pipeline will mean to people along the route.
It’s one thing to list the benefits of what pipeline will mean economically:
- 42,100 new jobs.
- $2 billion in earnings.
- $3.4 billion added to U.S. GDP.
It’s another to put flesh and bone on those numbers and find out for myself what opportunities have been lost by the pipeline’s delay, and how local communities have been affected.
So in the words of Horace Greeley it’s time to “Go west!”
Next week, some friends at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Energy and I will go on the “Lost Opportunity Tour.” We will travel the 875 mile route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the Montana/Canada border to Steele City, Nebraska. While passing through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, we’ll talk to small business owners, farmers, ranchers, and local officials. They will tell us how the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline has been a lost opportunity for their communities.
“For six long years, the Obama administration has failed to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “Our tour will demonstrate that there are consequences for this inaction. Not only has America been forced to buy millions of barrels of oil from unfriendly sources, but Americans along the pipeline route and across the nation have been denied thousands of jobs, millions in revenue, and countless opportunities.”
What are some of those lost opportunities?
- What kind of road and other local improvements could have been done already had counties been receiving additional property tax revenue from the pipeline?
- How busy would restaurants, hotels, and stores along the route be from serving the thousands of construction workers building the pipeline?
- How much income and added financial security would farmers and ranchers have by allowing the safest, most advanced pipeline in North America to run under their property?
We’ll answer these questions and let the people who will be most affected by the Keystone XL pipeline explain why it should be built.
Matt Koch, an Energy Institute vice president, who will be traveling with me said:
While for some, the Keystone XL pipeline has been a symbolic policy fight, it is important to remember that there are real people who have been waiting for six years for the opportunities that will come with the pipeline. Our Tour will introduce those voices to the nation and help build even more support for the Keystone XL pipeline, which the vast majority of Americans want to see built.
This Tour will help you (and the Administration) better understand how the pipeline will improve these communities and why it’s in America’s national interest for it to be approved.
Join me—virtually on the Tour. Follow on social media with the #KXLtour hashtag, on Twitter (@energy21), on the Energy Institute’s Facebook page, and on the Energy Institute’s website next week. And check back to this blog where you’ll find my daily posts from the road. You can also follow me on Twitter (@seanhackbarth) and Instagram where I’ll be posting additional thoughts and observations.