Hal Daub is a lifelong Nebraskan. He is a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and is a former Representative of Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District and former Mayor of the City of Omaha.
This week, the Nebraska Public Safety Commission (PSC) will meet to hear final arguments in approving the last leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision of the PSC will be the end of a process that has lasted for far too long, and has held up economic benefits for communities across Nebraska and the country.
Since 2009, environmental extremists have worked to stall production of Keystone by promoting doomsday scenarios with little basis in facts. The realities are that Keystone will lead to thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We can all agree that safekeeping our lands, whether in Nebraska or other states, is of utmost importance. That’s one of the reasons we need pipelines like Keystone.
As a country, we still rely on clean fossil fuels, like natural gas, to power our daily lives. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. While one day we may be able to affordably depend on energy sources other than fossil fuels, we simply aren’t there yet. Therefore these energy sources need to be transported, and pipelines are the safest way of doing so. Without them, we would be forced to rely on rail, tankers, and trucking transports, which have far more risks than pipelines. In fact, 99.99 percent of natural gas and petroleum products moved via pipelines reach their destinations safely. The Obama Administration’s own State Department’s review of Keystone concluded alternative transport options all had higher environmental impacts.
Ironically, if environmental activists had their way and banned pipelines, we would end up producing even more greenhouse gasses by having to utilize modes of transport reliant with high emission levels.
There’s also the vast economic benefits directly related to Keystone. Construction of the pipeline itself would create thousands of jobs, along with the thousands created as a result of new investments in the energy sector.
Keystone will also generate about $55 million in new property taxes for 27 counties, 12 of which are in Nebraska. One study concluded Nebraska would add over $580 million in labor income, boosting the state’s GDP by $679 million over the 15 years after completing construction.
The benefits of Keystone speak for themselves, however it’s the alternatives that are most alarming. Radical environmentalists either don’t know or don’t care about the disastrous consequences that would occur if they achieved their goals of banning pipelines everywhere. We’ve already seen what happens to communities where it’s been done before.
New York State self-imposed a pipeline ban, and the results are exactly what you would expect. By 2020, the state is expected to see 1.6 billion less in their GDP, and the loss of 17,400 jobs. The rest of the Northeast can expect 78,000 jobs to disappear, thanks to New York’s decision.
It’s fairly simple, this comes down to a choice that protestors don’t want to acknowledge exists: are we willing to pay more in energy costs, for the services we receive, and the goods we purchase, in exchange for banning pipelines and ultimately fossil fuel production? I’m not.
It is intellectually dishonest for any group protesting this pipeline that 1) has never protested any of the scores of Nebraska underground pipelines crisscrossing our state in the past, 2) does not recognize the international relationships on the issue of trade with our best partner, Canada, and 3) does not protest railroad and trucking transport of oil that is much more dangerous on every count than pipeline conveyance. If that were the case, their howls would be more logical and would then have the climate-change apologists acting more rationally. As the protesters stand, their position is discredited by their inconsistent approach.
For too long we’ve delayed unleashing the economic potential of the Keystone XL pipeline. With approval from the PSC, we can safely transport necessary fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for our great state. This is about as simple of a decision as there is.