GREAT FALLS – TransCanada Corporation announced in January they would be moving forward with the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The pipeline would go from Alberta, Canada, through eastern Montana all the way to Nebraska.
In a rally that organizers called “Protect our Water” many people came from across the treasure state to voice their opposition against this pipeline.
“Water is more important to me than just about any natural resource, look over there at the Missouri River and that should be enough for everyone to understand that they do not need and it’s insanity to think that you should be putting 36 inch pipelines under three of very iconic, historic and economically important rivers,” said Dena Hoff of Glendive.
Hoff tells us she knows the effects of the pipeline. In 2015, a pipeline spilled right under her sheep pasture. It took months to clean up.
“A 36-inch pipeline will have nine times the capacity of the 12-inch pipeline that broke under the river in Glendive below my sheep pasture. People don’t have all the facts, they don’t understand the implications of this pipeline. It’s more than jobs, it is devastation,” Hoff said.
Those against it also say the project will threaten the drinking water and irrigation water in the states along its route including the water used by farmers, ranchers and tribal members from the fort peck reservation.
TransCanada’s senior communications specialist Matthew John says, “the project will contribute tens of millions of dollars to Montana’s economy through construction activities, property taxes and business opportunities for local suppliers. In addition to these considerable economic benefits and the jobs the project will support, Keystone XL will allow more North American oil to reach U.S. refineries which supports the U.S. economy and reduces reliance on OPEC oil.”
Those who attended the rally at the Elks Riverside Park marched along the river to the West Bank Park, which happens to be behind the Missouri River Federal Courthouse where there will be a hearing tomorrow regarding the Trump administration’s approval of the pipeline.
MTN reached out to Montana’s senators. In a written statement, Senator Jon Tester writes:
“The Keystone XL pipeline will create jobs and support our economy. I’m asking the president to use American workers and American steel in the construction process, respect private property rights, and make sure the oil stays in the U.S. so we can strengthen our energy independence.”
In a written statement, Senator Steve Daines writes:
“Keystone will put America on the path to both energy independence and dominance while injecting millions of dollars in tax revenue to our rural communities, keeping electricity prices low for Montana families, and creating thousands of jobs. It is great news that this long-overdue project is moving forward.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News