Some Mont.ranchers, union workers pleased by pipeline halt |

Some Mont.ranchers, union workers pleased by pipeline halt

TransCanada Corporation announced last week it had sent a letter to Secretary John Kerry of the U.S. State Department asking the Department to pause its review of the Presidential Permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The move comes in the face of an expected rejection by the Obama administration and low oil prices that are sapping business interests in Canada’s oil reserves. Also, the state of Nebraska is holding up final approval of the route through that state.

“In order to allow time for certainty regarding the Nebraska route, TransCanada requests that the State Department pause in its review of the Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL,” the company said in the suspension request reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “This will allow a decision on the Permit to be made later based on certainty with respect to the route of the pipeline.”

Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers in eastern Montana along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, along with refinery workers in the Billings area, breathed a sigh of relief today.

Agriculture protected

After many years of review, TransCanada still did not have an Emergency Response Plan in place. The pipeline would have put agricultural land and waterways at risk.

Darrell Garoutte of McCone County, a rancher on what would have been the path of the Keystone XL pipeline, stated, “I am relieved at TransCanada’s decision to withdraw its application for the Keystone XL pipeline. This project is fraught with risk, flirts with environmental catastrophe, and with a right-of-way garnered by the threat of or active use of condemnation. There are few rewards from this project, minimal jobs, and virtually no long-term benefit to the American public.” Garoutte also represents Northern Plains Resource Council, a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group in Billings.

“Many farmers and ranchers will feel much relieved at the prospect of their land not getting sacrificed for an oil pipeline. It’s just not needed right now due to the worldwide decrease in demand in oil as evidenced by recent layoffs by various companies in the oil sector,” Garoutte added. “My land and the land of my neighbors do not need to be sacrificed for a foreign corporation to add more glut to the oil market. Our nation needs to embrace cleaner and safer energy sources.”

Refinery jobs saved

Because Keystone XL would have routed oil to the Gulf Coast of Texas for export, it threatened American jobs.

“Because there was never an agreement that all of the oil shipped by Keystone XL was to be refined in the United States, and finished products consumed in the United States, I am pleased that TransCanada withdrew its application,” said Keith Crookston, a Cenex refinery worker in Laurel and member of United Steelworkers 11-443.

“This is ultimately a very good thing for good paying, good benefits, good pension American refining jobs which would have begun to disappear should Keystone XL have been built,” stated J.W. Westman, an Exxon refinery worker in Billings and member of United Steelworkers Local 11-470.

–Northern Plains Resource Council