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Linda Weiss: Pipeline promises to be bad deal for America

BISMARCK -- The Keystone XL pipeline is not a good deal for North Dakotans, nor is it a good idea for Americans. Keystone XL should not be constructed for at least four reasons: It is not a job creator; it would hurt landowners throughout the cen...

Linda Weiss

BISMARCK -- The Keystone XL pipeline is not a good deal for North Dakotans, nor is it a good idea for Americans.

Keystone XL should not be constructed for at least four reasons: It is not a job creator; it would hurt landowners throughout the central U.S.; it would raise gasoline prices in the Midwest; it will not improve U.S. energy independence.

• When it comes to the jobs argument, Keystone XL falls flat. Pipeline construction would create temporary construction jobs, but once the pipeline is built, credible sources estimate that only 50 to 100 permanent jobs would remain.

Some companies would make a lot of money, but there won't be many middle-income people in new jobs, if it is built.

• The impacts from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on landowners throughout the central United States would be long lasting. To see what's in store for landowners, we need look no further than southeastern North Dakota along the route of the original Keystone I pipeline, TransCanada's predecessor to its Keystone XL.

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A significant oil spill, spewing oil 60 feet into the air, occurred on a farm near Ludden, N.D. in May 2011. The farmer reported it to the company before TransCanada's detection system did. The spill damaged farmland and resulted in costly cleanup.

But the North Dakota Public Service Commission, federal agencies and the company have decided to ignore landowners' continuing concerns.

Nearby in the Fort Ransom area of the scenic Sheyenne River Valley, the eerie, piercing noise from a Keystone I pump station has reduced property values and hurt the main reason people live and visit the area: to hunt and fish.

At first, TransCanada ignored the problem; then they planted trees around the noise; and then, the company admitted that trees actually cannot diminish the noise.

PSC commissioners said it's a price of progress, and that landowners should get used to it.

Tar sands are nearly impossible to clean up when spilled. Tar sands spills such as the Line 6B spill that occurred in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan highlight the difficulty of cleaning up dirty tar sands. That spill occurred in 2011 but has yet to be cleaned up.

It's hard to imagine that the Keystone XL will not produce similar consequences as its predecessor Keystone I and other tar sands pipelines have.

If approved, many experts have asserted that Keystone XL will transport dirty tar sands (mostly owned by Chinese investors) from Canada through America's breadbasket to the Gulf of Mexico, where it will be refined and sold on the international market to the highest bidder, most likely China.

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Being collateral damage so that multinational oil corporations can make billions on sending oil to China and others abroad is too high a price to expect from farmers and ranchers, many from families who have made their living for generations in the central United States.

• Americans must understand that Keystone XL will do nothing to improve U.S. energy independence.

High quality Bakken crude oil is helping America move toward energy independence. And it's unlikely that the Keystone XL ever would help move Bakken oil to domestic markets. North Dakota's most famous oilman Harold Hamm recently asserted that there is no need for Keystone XL because other pipelines have stepped in to take the place of the capacity that Keystone XL once promised to oil companies in the Bakken.

• According to testimony before Canada's National Energy Board and U.S. legislative hearings with TransCanada officials, the Keystone XL is expected to decrease the "oversupply" of oil in the American Midwest and thus increase prices at the gas pump for American consumers in this region.

So, not only would oil companies be provided a way to expedite shipping oil to foreign markets, but they also are expecting to raise pump prices so they can pocket another $2 billion to $4 billion each year.

It's a one-sided deal that's not good for American consumers.

The Keystone XL pipeline is surrounded by hype. Claims by proponents are either false or exaggerated. Knowing the facts, the American people should say no to the Keystone XL, because it is a loser not only for the heartland but also for the United States.

Linda Weiss is chairman of the board of directors of the Dakota Resource Council.

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