Petroleum demand, proposed Keystone XL Pipeline concern Nebraska farmers

SophiaVirgillito

In an attempt to save the environment, protect natural habitats as well as Midwestern farms and reduce air pollution, plans for the Keystone XL, an expansion of the current Keystone Pipeline, have been canceled by President Joe Biden. 

Counties and cities affected by Keystone XL Pipeline.

The existing Keystone Pipeline travels from Alberta, Canada to Elm Creek, Canada, then south into the United States through North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. It carries crude oil, commonly known as petroleum, which is then used to make fuels, like the kind pumped into cars and jets. It is first drilled from beneath the earth’s surface and then transported through the pipeline starting in Canada to refiners in Texas and distribution centers in Oklahoma. 

According to the Global Energy Institute (www.globalenergyinstitute.org/keystone-xl-pipeline), the Keystone XL was proposed to “provide the United States with the opportunity to access safe, reliable, and affordable energy supplies from Canada, and reduce our need to import crude oil from less stable countries and regions of the world.”

The new pipeline would run southeast through Montana and connect to Nebraska at the old pipeline. 

The Keystone XL would bring new jobs to the U.S. but would also impact the environment, farming grounds, and air pollution. 

In Nebraska, the Keystone XL would run through Keya Paha, Boyd, Holt, Antelope and Madison Counties, then connect in Stanton County. 

Nebraska’s farmers, many of whom would see effects of the pipeline on their lands and livestock, are working against its production. Art Tanderup is one of them. 

Tanderup was approached in 2012 by a representative of TC Energy, as the new pipeline would cross he and his wife Helen’s land in Neligh, Neb. in Antelope County. Tanderup is concerned about the oil leaking into the Ogallala Aquifer, which runs under most of Nebraska. This would expose the water to the harsh chemicals and potentially contaminate it. 

“In Nebraska, it [the Keystone XL] is planned to run through ranching and agricultural areas, and benzene [a natural consistent in crude oil] will kill a person, but if it were to leak on a farm or in the aquifer, we would not be able to use the well [on my land] or neighboring wells. We would not be able to irrigate crops or haul water in for livestock. Nebraskans rely on irrigation for crops, [so] without irrigation it would run a lot of farmers out of business,” Tanderup said. 

Other Nebraskans support the pipeline, as it would bring in more jobs and tax revenue to the rural communities. 

The current pipeline is a way to get petroleum, which is then turned into gasoline, from an outside source into the United States. This provides cars with fuel to travel. In the past year, the demand for gasoline was lower because of the pandemic, as state guidelines encouraged many to stay home. With lessening restrictions currently, travel has increased along with the demand for gasoline. The prices of gasoline usually rise during this time of the year due to maintenance at refineries. 

TransCanada Energy (www.tcenergy.com/stories/energy-sources/5-reasons-to-support-keystone-xl) gives “five reasons to support Keystone XL,” saying it could create many jobs for Midwesterners, empower North America’s economy, strengthen energy security, have minimal impact on the environment, and have enhanced crude oil safety measures. Allowing the expansion would allow the U.S. to reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil and increase access to American-owned options. It is argued that the pipeline increases pollution, but without it the transportation of oil by truck would increase, creating more air pollution. 

The pipeline is useful for the transportation of crude oil to cities, but critics say it could hurt Nebraskan farms, agriculture, livestock and irrigation if expansion continues. 

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