After almost 1,700 days, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline remains in regulatory purgatory. Those of us who believe it will bring jobs and an economic boost have a new poster child: Cash Western Store. Mr. Berry echoed those sentiments when I visited his store a few weeks ago.
The proposed pipeline, which originates in Canada and bisects the U.S. before terminating at the Gulf Coast, crosses into Seminole County, just miles from Cash Western.
Mr. Berry said of the pipeline workers frequenting his store and boosting his business, “These people travel all over everywhere, but they can’t get over how nice people are in Oklahoma. The friendly personality that Oklahomans have has really impressed them.”
We’re not surprised, are we? He said the pipeline workers say they don’t get the same welcome in all communities they work, though.
Mr. Berry is happy to have them and their business. He told me his store has seen an uptick in sales since the pipeline workers came to town. He tries to be as flexible as possible for them and their long hours. He said he tells them that although he normally closes at 5:30 p.m. and is closed on Sunday, he’s glad to stay open later or open up on Sunday after church to accommodate them.
Cash Western is not the only store to see more business from the pipeline. Local restaurants and retail stores have seen higher traffic. The hospitality and housing industry is growing, not to mention high-paying jobs in welding, earth-moving and heavy construction that have come to the Seminole area.
TransCanada will spend a projected $7 billion in the U.S. to build the pipeline and will help create 20,000 jobs from its construction. The southern leg of the Keystone XL already has boosted local and state tax revenues in Oklahoma. Furthermore, a continued energy alliance with our friends in Canada brings us one step closer to North American energy independence.
So, why is there still opposition to the pipeline? We already have two pipelines from Alberta, Canada, into the U.S. that have operated for years.
In March, the U.S. State Department issued a draft report essentially stating there was no reason to continue stalling construction of the pipeline. Environmental concerns have been mitigated, and the Republican governor of Nebraska — initially unhappy with the path of the pipeline — worked with TransCanada to redirect construction. No pipeline in American history has gone through as many environmental studies, and after the passage of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, no pipeline has faced as many safety requirements.
There is no reason to continue delaying the northern section of the pipeline. It’s time to make a decision about another small step in our economic and energy future. It’s just a pipeline. Why is this so difficult?
Lankford represents Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a Republican.