Editorial: Keystone XL Pipeline: Good or bad?

How many of you knew about the potential Keystone pipeline three months ago? Not many, we would assume.

The truth of the matter is that if the oil spill hadn’t happened in Mayflower in late March, the only interest in the proposed pipeline that could make its way through central Arkansas is in brief blips on a television news screen or in a press release from one of our representatives.

But the oil spill did happen. We still have people in and out of Mayflower disagreeing on the effects, the response and the future of the area. While many see the group from Exxon doing everything it can to help clean up the area and provide compensation for those directly involved, there are others who have seen that same group shielding us from certain areas of Faulkner County, slow to engage in serious questions about air and water quality.

And now comes the possibility of a new pipeline, a new chance for opportunity but also a new chance for major problems.

Let’s bypass the possibility of another oil spill. Chances are miniscule that anything like that catastrophe would happen in this area again. Of course that was what meteorologists told the people of Moore, Okla. 15 years ago. Things happen.

Let’s talk about what some people see as a positive: A better economy, increased jobs. Some estimated that there could be half a million jobs from Canada to Texas with more than 100,000 of those being permanent. But just before the Mayflower spill, a release from the state department sharply curtailed those numbers, placing non-permanent construction jobs at about 42,000 and actual permanent jobs at — get this — 35. That’s it.

But several polls in recent days have shown that more than two-thirds of Americans either support or somewhat support building the pipeline. We wonder how many of those people live in the Northwoods subdivision.

Want to know what the current administration thinks about it? Yeah, so do we. But it seems like President Obama has his hands full with IRS agents targeting conservative groups while Department of Justice officials tap into reporters’ phones.

So it looks like the House of Representatives, which is far more right-leaning than the Senate, could be trying to take the decision on the pipeline out of his hands. By approving legislation that would allow TransCanada to begin construction, Obama may not have a say in the matter. Of course, that piece of legislation is currently sitting on the Senate’s desk.

After reading this, you may think that the Keystone XL Pipeline is a horrible idea, certain to fail. But it’s not that simple. Although the pipeline would be transporting tar sands from Canada to the gulf for refinement, and although there is actually no real proof that the oil produced would be available for the United States, it is still a project that would be required to keep us using our main energy source.

Seriously, unless you want to make every day bike-to-work day, you and we need oil. And the tragedy that happened in our back yard might just make the construction of this new pipeline that much more safe, that much more by the book. We can only hope.

The truth is, this matter may not even be on our radar if the events that surrounded Mayflower hadn’t happened.

But they did. And so we’ll wait on this pipeline and hope for the best.

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