Lovers of both crawfish and oil pipelines braved a heavy downpour on April 18 to demonstrate their support for the Keystone Pipeline at the downtown Beaumont Events Centre.
For the past few years, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, no stranger to Southeast Texas courts, has been bogged down by litigation, spurned by the filing of petitions for condemnation against area landowners.
The legal actions taken in order to build the pipeline, which will eventually ship oil from Canada all the way down to Texas, has given rise to eminent domain debates, heated speculation aimed at a foreign company’s right to seize Texas lands, and of course, fervent environmental quarrels.
However, although both environmentalists and staunch conservatives seem to be united on the anti-pipeline front, supporters of the Keystone Pipeline argue the benefits far outweigh the perceived cons.
“Environmentalist need to refocus their efforts on older pipelines,” said Robert Peters, who brought his family to the function in support of the pipeline. “That’s where their movement should be.”
Peters believes new technology and advances in metallurgy will ensure Keystone will be the safest pipeline in the world – much safer than depending on trucks and older pipelines to deliver crude.
“Pipelines that have been in use now for over 40 years have outlived their original intent of use,” Peters said. “It’s like changing your tires. You have to, or you’re going to have an accident. Environmentalists need to refocus their movements on getting those older pipelines updated.”
And as far as eminent domain goes, Peters says naysayers are overlooking a few important facts.
For starters, the oil companies will restore your land to its original condition, if not leave your property in better shape afterwards – a predicament Peters says he can attest to from personal experience.
And secondly, “You get paid,” he added.
“It’s an easement – you’re going to have to give them (companies) the right of way every few years are so, but you’re also going to get paid.”
On April 23, the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce partnered with Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) to recruit 33,748 Texas residents who petitioned the U.S. Department of State to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline because of the jobs, energy and economic security generated by the project.
"Stronger energy security and lower gas prices are not the only things that come with the KXL pipeline, Beaumont Chamber President Jim Rich said in a statement. "Construction will bring new jobs, new customers, new business and new investment. New infrastructure projects will boost the economy. We need it now."
CEA Executive Vice President Michael Whatley said the Keystone XL pipeline "will be the safest pipeline ever built in the United States, and construction will help create more than 42,000 jobs nationwide."
"The pipeline will also generate more than $20 billion in new economic growth for the struggling U.S. economy. The 830,000 barrels of oil per day that will flow through Keystone XL will help reduce fuel prices for families coast to coast, and dramatically improve our energy security by reducing our reliance on Middle Eastern oil. These comments that we are submitting today from thousands of Texas residents reflect what people across the country are saying: We need jobs, we need a stronger economy, and we need to build the Keystone XL pipeline."
While any Texan can freely debate the pros and cons of the Keystone Pipeline, such as job creation versus landowner’s rights, ultimately the appeals courts will decide the outcome, as even now justices seated on the Ninth Court of Appeals are deliberating on whether TransCanada has established its authority as a common carrier.