The Keystone Pipeline began its controversial life basically in 2010, yep, nine years ago. In what seemed to be a never-ending political saga in the court system phase after phase, the mammoth project now looks to finally be on its way to completion. Unless, the Democrats win the presidency in 2020, which will surely stop it all together and quite possibly forever.

Phase 1 from Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, is complete.

Phase 2 from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma, is complete.

Phase 3 from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur, Texas, is complete.

The fourth and final phase of the Keystone project was openly the most controversial of all sections. The original pipeline planned to run from Steele City, Nebraska, straight through the Sandhills of Nebraska and back up to Canada.

Nebraskans know The Sandhills is a region of mixed-grass prairies on grass-stabilized sand dunes in north-central Nebraska cover just over one quarter of the state. The dunes were designated a national natural landmark in 1984. (Details from this section came from Wikipedia.org.)

With the decision handed down by the Nebraska Supreme Court last week to approve a new route around the Sandhills, the project is on its way again.

Having come from southeast Texas prior to moving to Scottsbluff, I have a broad understanding of the Keystone Pipeline and am very supportive of it and its future potential for our nation. The pipeline ends in the refinery capital of the world, Port Arthur, Texas, my home for the past seven years.

Most citizens know that, once the pipeline is complete, it will push over 600,000 barrels of oil per day to the midwest refineries and more than 700,000 barrels per day to the refineries in southeast Texas.

Although it depends on who you ask, the number of jobs created by this varies greatly. But from my experience, it ranges into the thousands, if not more, per state. And that’s good at any level.

Unfortunately, with all the political drama over the past nine years, most citizens don’t realize that the finalization of the Keystone can put our nation on a path of petroleum independence. Basically meaning, we will not be dependent on foreign oil refineries across the pond to maintain the nearly 8 billion barrels of petroleum needed yearly to cover our own usage.

As it stands the U.S. requires approximately 2 million barrels per day from foreign countries to maintain its usage demands. That equates to 11% of our overall usage. No, that’s not a lot. This is good, because it is at a level that replacing would be easy with the right option.

So not only would we become independent in covering our usage needs, it would also position the U.S. as to become the number one producer of petroleum in the world over the next 10 to 15 years, guaranteed.

Opponents of the pipeline argue several reasons the project should not move forward, but there is really only one, environmental impact.

I think it’s important to note that the potential for negative environmental impact is already there. Currently, hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil are passing by and/or through communities daily via railroad, all heading south. In my opinion, there’s more of a chance for potential issues by railroad than an underground pipeline.

In addition, I tend to wonder if the federal government was to initiate a four-lane highway along the same route as the Keystone, would there have been the same level of uproar? I seriously doubt it. And honestly, it would probably have been finished by now.

As silly as that may sound, disruption is still disruption no matter the project. Which makes me questions, are the arguments against the pipeline hypocrisy, political or both?

Let’s finish the pipeline, once and for all!

rich.macke@starherald.com

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Rich Macke is the publisher of the Star-Herald publisher. He can be reached via email at rich.macke@starherald.com.

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