With nary a mention of climate change, Republican Senator Jodi Ernst of Iowa responded to the State of the Union address on January 20 by urging Americans to support passage of the “Keystone Jobs Bill.”
Earlier in the day TransCanada Corp. had filed eminent-domain proceedings against 90 landowners in Nebraska to gain legal clout for its proposed $8 billion, 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada to the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
“We’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve,” said Ernst in her address. “One you’ve probably heard about is the Keystone jobs bill. President Obama has been delaying this bipartisan infrastructure project for years, even though many members of his party, unions, and a strong majority of Americans support it. The President’s own State Department has said Keystone’s construction could support thousands of jobs and pump billions into our economy, and do it with minimal environmental impact.”
Previous reports have proven that that is not the case. While initial construction would generate potentially a few thousand jobs—estimates have varied wildly, depending on the calculation metho—only 50 or so permanent ones would remain after the pipeline was built.
Moreover, it will not reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, since most of the crude processed would be exported. And some say that rather than lowering gas prices, it could increase them.
Rosebud Sioux Tribal Chairman Cyril Scott has already termed the House of Representatives’ passage of this legislation at the end of last term an “act of war.”
Meanwhile, the battle heated up in Nebraska, where TransCanada initiated legal proceedings against 90 landowners under eminent domain, a move decried by Bold Nebraska and other activists.
“Landowners are prepared to battle TransCanada in court to stop them from using eminent domain for private gain,” said Jane Kleeb, who founded and heads the anti-Keystone XL group. “Farmers and ranchers have the grit and stomach to prevent TransCanada from polluting our water. Landowners will match TransCanada’s lawsuits in local courts and continue to take our fight to the one person who can put an end to all of this: President Obama.”
In anticipation of TransCanada’s move, landowners in two Nebraska counties filed suit on January 16 to challenge the proposed route. TransCanada’s eminent domain privilege expires on January 22, according to Bold Nebraska.
TransCanada is seeking an easement, the right to run the pipeline across the land, rather than outright ownership.
“Today we initiated these actions in the state of Nebraska, but that does not mean we’re done working toward a voluntary agreement,” said Andrew Craig, land manager for the company’s Keystone projects, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Our goal today is that, over the next six months, we are able to address any concerns they have about the project…. The current landowner will continue to own the land.”
Ernst said the pipeline has bipartisan support, and she pitted pipeline rejection against job creation. The newly Republican Congress is making Keystone XL a priority and is seeking a veto-proof majority on the legislation in question, which would enable the project to go forward without Obama’s approval, which it currently needs.
“We worked with Democrats to pass this bill through the House. We’re doing the same now in the Senate,” Ernst said. “President Obama will soon have a decision to make: Will he sign the bill, or block good American jobs?”