Hope for Keystone XL in Montana

Radical environmentalists and the Democrats they support consistently and opportunistically denounce the Keystone Pipeline as a harbinger of environmental harm. Frankly, their claims are patently false. Even worse, the wait for Keystone’s approval has caused a great deal of economic instability in the regions dotting its proposed path. Montana’s floundering economy best exemplifies the consequences of the Obama Administration and State Department’s political posturing over the past six years.

Aside from a small increase in 2013, Montana’s oil production has dipped significantly every year since 2005. Small towns close to neighboring North Dakota, a state that epitomizes the positive effects of America’s oil boom, are suffering from rising taxes and housing costs without the higher income to pay for them. And in struggling towns like Glasgow, schools in desperate need of renovations wait for better times, moving money around just to get by.

According to Dan Bucks, the director of Montana’s Department of Revenue, Keystone XL would be an immediate remedy for many of these problems.

“…TransCanada will pay about $80.3 million in total Montana property taxes in its first year of operation, of which $16.3 million will go to the school equalization fund and $1 million will go to the university system. The rest (about $63 million) will be divided among the counties and school districts within the counties, and other tax districts such as fire, cemetery and soil conservation districts. In McCone County, Montana, TransCanada would be paying an expected $10,403 in revenue for each of McCone County’s 1,734 residents.”

IER, 7/8/14

For these reasons and many more, Keystone XL should be a no brainer; for Montana, it is. Widespread and visible energy production is nothing new for a state sitting on a veritable goldmine of natural resources – and Montanans are ready to use them. Communities like Baker have seen firsthand the numerous economic benefits of oil production in North Dakota. Yet as long as Keystone XL remains unapproved, they’re forced to sit idly by as ghost towns spring up and dilapidated schools begin to fall apart. If there is anything positive to be taken from the suffering of these small towns, it is the unification of their citizens.

And since 2014’s red wave gave Republicans the Senate Majority, that unity might finally be paying off. Politico reports:

“Republicans will command a filibuster-proof Senate majority in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline after Tuesday’s election victories — and they could be within striking distance of assembling a veto-proof bloc for the project, increasing their leverage over President Barack Obama. The GOP says Keystone will be the subject of one of the first votes in the newly GOP-controlled Senate, when Republicans will be able to join forces with several Democrats who have already publicly backed the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline.”

Politico (11/5/14)

This doesn’t mean that Keystone XL will definitely be approved in the coming months, nor does it mean that our fight for American energy has gotten any easier. It does, however, give Montanans a new hope. And that is something to be thankful for.


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