Pipeline Is Jobs For ND

March 6, 2012 4:30 pm | Categories:

Inforum (Fargo, ND and Moorhead, ND)

By Tim Mackey—Construction and General Laborers Union Local 563

The Obama administration disappointed many jobless Americans with its recent decision to deny approval for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The GOP slipped into the December payroll tax cut bill a provision requiring the Department of State to make a final decision early this year. And a broad bipartisan group of business leaders and labor organizations had voiced their support for the project.

Nonetheless, the State Department rejected it. Officials said they weren’t opposed to the pipeline in theory; they just couldn’t do sufficient research on its environmental implications in the time frame forced on them.

Yet, they still deprived the American people of tens of thousands of new jobs. With 16 percent unemployment in the construction trades, this decision was particularly devastating to the union community.

The company behind Keystone XL—TransCanada—is already gearing up to reapply for approval. If they do, the White House must reconsider its decision, approve this project, and give North Dakota—and the nation at large—the jobs and growth it so desperately needs.

Keystone XL is a massive pipeline that would transport crude oil from the Bakken and Alberta, Canada, through the United States and down to refineries in Texas. It would directly create an estimated 20,000 new jobs during construction. And it is expected to stir additional employment growth in support industries, like transportation, food, and housing.

North Dakota already accounts for more than 2 percent of total U.S. crude oil production. Keystone XL would build upon that legacy to bring more industry jobs into the state.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., recently remarked that the project is “critical in helping to meet the infrastructure needs of North Dakota and will create even more opportunity and more jobs for our state and our nation.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple also believes that Keystone XL will create long-term benefits for the state. In his State of the State address, he said, “Energy is such a large part of our economic future … The payback to the citizens of North Dakota would be tremendous … (This industry) is a critical element in expanding job opportunities.”

The pipeline will alleviate pressure on North Dakota’s roads, improve its infrastructure and reduce local prices of crude oil. Moving oil in a pipeline is significantly more efficient, safe, and environmentally-friendly than using trucks or cars, which are now the most popular transportation vehicles in this state. Building this pipeline would relieve stress on state highways and rails, while also improving protection of the local environment.

The pipeline will carry 830,000 barrels a day of oil to refineries in the American south, including 150,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken region. That’s equivalent to replacing approximately 1,700 truckloads of oil per day. Overall, this amounts to less automobile emissions and an increase in public safety.

With North Dakota producing more barrels of oil than ever, this state needs to construct and renovate its infrastructure to keep businesses growing. New local government revenue from Keystone XL could help fund those improvements.

The White House made a disappointing mistake in rejecting Keystone XL. But it will likely soon have an opportunity to rectify this decision. It must approve this project. We can’t afford further delays—our state’s economy is counting on it.