WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: Atmospheric physicist and Columbia University Earth Institute adjunct professor James Hansen testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from proponents and opponents of the pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the United States for production and refinery. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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The XL Keystone Pipeline debate has been going on for almost six years now. The Keystone Pipeline is not one pipeline but a series of lines.

What would the Keystone Pipeline mean to Montana? Thankfully we don’t have to guess.

We just need to look at what happened when the first Keystone Pipeline was constructed back in 2008.

The 2008 Keystone Pipeline

The 2008 Keystone Pipeline started in Canada and passed through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and part of Illinois.

The proposed new expansion of the Keystone Pipeline that the House of Representatives voted on this week will include the northeast corner of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and end at the Kansas border.

The southern leg will go from Cushing, Oklahoma, across Texas ending in a split between Port Arthur and Houston, Texas.

How Did South Dakota Benefit From the 2008 Keystone Pipeline?

Let’s explore what we know from the first Keystone Pipeline.

  • Construction of the 2008 pipeline contributed about $3.4 billion to the US GDP.
    • “In total, South Dakota counties will enjoy some $20 million in annual property taxes which will help address local infrastructure needs like roads, bridges, and other facilities that improve the standard of living for South Dakotans.”
    • The eight construction camps (one in Montana) contributed a full year of property taxes for seven counties for a total of $4 million. Add sales taxes to those states that have them and other taxes (gas) and there were additional revenue to states and counties.
    • Property taxes covering the three states and 27 counties amounted to $55.6 million.

How Will Montana Benefit From The Keystone Pipeline?

The most glaring benefit that no one seems to be talking about is the $63 million in property taxes that some of the poorest counties in Montana will receive paid by a foreign company.

That money will be paid every year the pipeline is in existence. I can’t find a legitimate reason for passing that up.

We’ve already seen the economic benefits of the Baaken Oil Fields. According to the Billings Gazette, salaries increased 140% within 100 miles of the oil field.

Will the Keystone Pipeline Be Safe?

The Exxon Valdez, the BP oil spill, the Yellowstone pipeline ruptured and oil trains derail that all prove one thing — Stuff Happens.

The Keystone Pipeline being proposed will be the safest pipeline ever constructed in the US because of “59 enhanced safety conditions and technological improvements since 2010.”

Some Final Thoughts

If you’re not going to build a pipeline because there might be an accident makes about as much sense as not building a road because two cars might collide.

Once a train car derails it just keeps on going. A pipeline can be shut off.

Fossil fuels will be a thing of the past one day. But that day won’t come any faster or slower because we utilize current fuel sources.

It took over 100 years for our phones to move to texting.

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