Guest comment  – New York

Photo Credit: Mother Jones Magazine (
Photo Credit: Mother Jones Magazine (

Randy Thompson, landowner and Keystone XL pipeline opponent | Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2013 12:00 am

As a Nebraska landowner on the front lines of the Keystone XL battle, I have a unique perspective into the tremendous risks that Americans would face if President Obama approved the tar sands pipeline.

The risks to our country’s freshwater, and the risks to our land, are ammunition enough for the President to reject the pipeline.

But the fact that the tar sands oil will be exported to countries like China and Venezuela, and won’t even stay in the U.S. puts me over the edge — because it means that American citizens like me would be taking on all of the risk so that Big Oil and foreign countries could get the reward.

I’m a lifelong registered Republican, and you could call me an accidental activist. But after learning the facts about the risks and rewards of the Keystone XL pipeline, I had no choice but to do everything in my power to stop this export pipeline. I’ve testified before the Nebraska legislature, testified before Congress, and testified before members of the State Department.

That’s why I’ll be chairing a new national organization called the “All Risk, No Reward Coalition” to tell the President that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in our national interest. Once he recognizes that the pipeline doesn’t provide any benefits for U.S. citizens, he will have no choice but to reject the pipeline.

Big Oil has poured massive amounts of money into a campaign to paint a rosy picture of the pipeline for the President, elected officials and the public. But this version of facts must be based in an alternate universe where risks are eliminated and benefits are magnified. In reality, the Keystone pipeline is all risk and no reward.

This pipeline isn’t about energy security. The purpose is to get Canadian tar sands oil to a place it can be sold at the world market. The Gulf Coast is exactly that place, where refineries can export the oil to markets where they can get a higher price.

In the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement, analysts found that the pipeline would ship oil overseas and would not reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

Instead of enhancing our energy independence or weaning our dependence on foreign oil, Keystone will actually make it easier for our foreign competitors to buy cheap oil. The pipeline might bring security to the bank accounts of foreign oil companies, but it will do nothing for the security of our nation.

There is no reward of energy independence with this pipeline. Only risks to our land and water.

The oil companies and their hired guns have also told us that Keystone will jump start our economy with thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands new jobs.

But that claim, too, crumbles under the facts. The State Department reported that the pipeline will create 35 permanent jobs. Three-five. That’s not a typo.

The jobs will soon disappear, the energy independence will be on a ship to some unknown destination, but the scar on America’s landscape will be with us forever.

Neither Nebraska landowners such as myself, nor American citizens across the country are prepared for these consequences. We rely on fresh water for drinking and for agriculture — and a spill in the Ogallala Aquifer would make both of these impossible. We’re talking about public health, environmental risks, lost agricultural land and enormous economic costs.

These are huge risks, and the benefits don’t come close to balancing them out. Americans are taking the risks while the oil industry and Canada are reaping the benefits.

Once the President sees that the Keystone XL pipeline is all risk and no reward, he will realize that it isn’t in our national interest and have no choice but to reject the tar sands pipeline.

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