SCRANTON, N.D. — Ken Steiner looks out the window of his house and sees thousands of pipes sitting in a railyard.
Today, the Bowman County Commissioner learned those pipes aren’t going anywhere soon.
As much as 600 miles of 36-diameter metal pipe intended for use in the Keystone XL oil pipeline project will likely sit unused and in stacks near the tiny southwest North Dakota town of Gascoyne–about 65 miles southwest of Dickinson–after President Barack Obama announced he was rejecting the 1,179-mile pipeline project proposed by TransCanada Corp.
Keystone XL’s rejection comes more than 2,600 days after it was proposed in 2008 and more than three years since the pipes began being stored in eastern Bowman County.
“Everybody has been wondering what’s going on,” Steiner said. “… It puts a bad taste in everybody’s mouth because people think it should have been done a long time ago. I don’t see that one person should have the authority to OK that. It don’t seem right to me.”
Davis Sheremata, a TransCanada media relations representative, stated in an email that the pipes will remain in Bowman County.
“We (will) continue to store it and use it for other projects and continue in our belief that much of it will one day be used for Keystone XL,” he wrote.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the company would likely re-apply for the pipeline project under the next administration in 2017.
The Keystone XL pipeline was intended to ship 800,000 barrels each day from the Canadian oil sands and would link up to a terminal proposed to built near Baker, Mont. That terminal was projected to accept 100,000 barrels of North Dakota Bakken crude oil daily.
Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said the barrels that were committed to Keystone XL will either be transported by rail or another pipeline.
“It was one of the projects that we were counting on to go into service to provide that pipeline takeaway capacity,” Kringstad said.
The bulk of Obama’s speech Friday morning focused on his administration’s clean energy goals and downplayed the economic impact the Keystone XL would have made.
“The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy,” the president said early in his speech.
Officials in Baker, however, disagreed and said they have been anticipating an economic boost from the pipeline for years while working with TransCanada to make that happen.
Kevin Dukart, Baker’s city clerk and treasurer, said TransCanada planned to bring anywhere from 600 to 1,200 temporary workers into the town of about 1,875 people.
He said both the city and Fallon County had spent money in a cost-sharing agreement with TransCanada to run sewer and water lines to service an area on the outskirts of town where a worker camp was intended to be built. The city also expanded its lagoon to accommodate a potential increase in use.
Dukart said Baker’s public officials remain in favor of the pipeline “because of the positive impact it’s already had on our infrastructure and mostly likely in the future. It’d have a positive tax impact for the six counties in Montana that it’s going through and the state.”
Dukart said, to his knowledge, the Bakken Marketlink project scheduled to be built near Baker would have employed several permanent employees.
“We think the positives would definitely outweigh any temporary inconveniences,” Dukart said. “That’s what the public officials have kind of worked through for several years.”
Steiner said while Bowman County officials hadn’t examined a potential trickle-down economic impact Keystone XL would have had on the area, he said it would have “put something into the economy.”
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., made the most critical statement of Obama, calling his rejection of the pipeline project “an affront to the American people,” and decried the president for continually delaying his decision, only to fall back on environmental issues over the project’s rejection.
“It has taken more than seven years for President Obama to come clean with the American people and admit his anti-energy and anti-American jobs agenda,” Daines stated in a release.
“President Obama had an opportunity to help create good-paying jobs with the construction of the Keystone pipeline, but instead he chose to blatantly disregard the economic needs of this nation, the need for good-paying jobs, like union jobs, energy costs for Montana families and the will of the American people.”