Have you ever been to a "White Elephant" party? It's a party where there are lots of beautifully wrapped packages, but the gifts are all stinkers.
That's what the Keystone XL Pipeline is for Montana and for our country: a bad deal wrapped in pretty packaging. After researching the issue and speaking with Montanans from all over the state, here are my top 10 reasons for opposing it.
Who am I? I'm a Montana rancher and Democrat who wants to be the next U.S. senator from Montana. (Find out more about my campaign here, if you're curious.) I'm the dark horse running for the open seat to replace Max Baucus, and I'm the only candidate -- Democrat or Republican -- who's daring to come out against this boondoggle.
10. TransCanada is a bad neighbor; they won't respect our property rights or our land. Ranchers and local officials in Eastern Montana, who are near the Bakken Shale oil and gas development, report damaging practices by TransCanada, including allegedly driving big trucks over pastures without permission, hiding behind other companies to avoid responsibility, and aggressively using threats of eminent domain seizures to pressure landowners to sell. When the first leg of the Keystone XL pipeline came to Nebraska, TransCanada's threats were bad enough that even their good buddy Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Tar Sands) had to beg TransCanada to stop.
9. The steel for Keystone XL has already been made, much of it in Canada, India, and Italy. No new jobs for Montanans there! NBC News did a special investigation into the job claims made for the Keystone XL project and found that "they don't hold up." NBC News cited a report by Cornell University Global Labor Institute that found that "some 50 percent or more of the steel pipe used for Keystone XL ... will be manufactured outside of the U.S."
8. People in eastern Montana communities impacted by the Bakken development are unhappy with the impact on their infrastructure. A report commissioned by the Montana Crime Control Board found that while a few people may get rich, the rest of the community has had to deal with housing shortages and school overcrowding, as well as roads, gas stations, sewers, and medical and fire services that have not been able to keep up with the growth. Everywhere in Montana, I meet the same concerns. If we can't even take care of our people who are dealing with the impacts of energy development now, what in the world makes us think we can handle a pipeline in the right way for Montanans?
7. Keystone XL will increase the cost of crude oil here in Montana, narrowing profits for Montana businesses like the Billings Refinery. When it was applying for a permit from the Canadian Energy Board, TransCanada admitted that Keystone XL would raise the price of crude by $3 a barrel. Montana refineries have been getting a discount on Canadian oil because of how hard it is to deliver, but that discount would be eliminated if the Keystone XL pipeline is built.
6. Keystone XL carries permanent risk to our planet. Climate change affects all of us and would be truly disastrous if it comes to pass. Developing the Alberta Tar Sands will result in a sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions that the world can't afford. The increased pollution from the tar sands oil would be as much as adding more than 37 million cars or 51 new coal plants. That's a dirty deal for our state and our planet.
5. Speaking of jobs, jobs, jobs, TransCanada has been doing "fuzzy math" on the number of jobs it will create, counting each year as one job, and including jobs like ballet dancing and speech therapy in the potential job count. When TransCanada does hire, they have a history of skipping local workers and bringing in their own people: only three South Dakotan welders and pipefitters worked on the pipeline in South Dakota. The more you look, the more it's clear that the only permanent jobs Montana would see from this pipeline would be for cleanup crews on the Yellowstone River when the pipeline pollutes it.
4. Keystone XL will drive up gas prices for consumers from my state of Montana all the way to Tennessee. Because this entire region is dependent on Canadian crude for their gasoline, and some of that crude oil will now be shipped overseas, the law of supply and demand tells us that now prices will go up. Consumer Watchdog put this increase to gas prices at 20 to 40 cents per gallon.
3. Even Continental Resources doesn't think Keystone XL is necessary. They are an oil company that had previously committed to shipping crude through the pipeline. Continental CEO Harold Hamm said that the entire oil industry is no longer counting on Keystone XL after years of delays over environmental concerns.
2. Keystone XL threatens permanent risk to our land. It's not a matter of whether it'll spill but of when. Keystone I, the first leg of the pipeline, sprang 12 leaks in its first year of operation, spewing over 20,000 gallons of crude oil in North Dakota and Kansas and demonstrating that safety regulations for tar sands pipelines are completely inadequate. TransCanada says that its pipelines are "state of the art" and predicted that they would only spill once every 12 years. Montana can't risk repeatedly dumping heavy crude all over our land, livelihood and legacy.
1. We can do better. Let's invest in projects that create permanent jobs and help Montanans live in a better world.
There are 10 reasons that I'm against Keystone XL, but there's one big reason that I'm the only Montana U.S. Senate candidate standing up against the pipeline. There's a lot of pressure on politicians to smile when they get their "White Elephant" presents and not look too closely at what's inside. Politicians are pushing the pipeline with one hand, and with the other they're refusing to support the communities that are already affected by energy development. Montanans have had enough. The rest of the country has as well.
Click here to stand with me against this Keystone XL pipeline.