BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –
This week I had the opportunity to stand with the employees and management of Welspun at their plant in Little Rock where more than 700 miles of pipe manufactured for the KeystoneXL pipeline are awaiting Obama administration approval for construction. I stood with Congressman Griffin, Senator Pryor, Congressman Cotton and three of my legislative colleagues as we called on President Obama and Congress to take immediate action to allow the project to proceed.
I’ve been asked “Why is a pipeline that’s not in Arkansas so important to a state representative?” The answer is simple. Completion of this pipeline is important to the environmental, economic and national security of Arkansas and the other 49 states.
First of all, KeystoneXL will be the safest pipeline in the nation. It will be constructed to the equivalent of High Consequence standards for the entire route. Every joint of pipe has been hydrostatically and ultrasonically tested in the mill for all possible defects. The route selected for the pipe has been thoroughly examined by every state and federal environmental agency and it has been found to exceed all standards for protection of water, wildlife and people. Oil transported on KeystoneXL will be moving in the safest possible mode of transport according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Oil transported on KeystoneXL is oil that won’t be transported on the trains that pass through Polk and Sevier counties every day. Even though these trains have an excellent safety record, the evidence is clear, transport via pipelines like KeystoneXL is a lower risk to the environment and public safety than transport by either truck or rail.
On Monday, I stood in the idle facility where hundreds of people will be employed fabricating the pipe for the pipeline when it is finally approved. Those are real Arkansas jobs, not just press conference announced jobs. Many of the folks in HD20 are employed in the pipeline construction industry. This project will create approximately 42,000 jobs, many of the them providing Arkansans with good paychecks and the financial security of a good job for 2 years or more. While only a few of the jobs created will be in HD20, the revenue generated will help fund essential services like schools and roads that benefit every Arkansan.
Building the KeystoneXL is also important for our national security. Canada is already our nation’s largest and most reliable source of crude oil. It just makes sense to do business with our neighbors and closest allies instead of with countries on the other side of the globe, many of whom have a history of funding terrorism and other anti-American activities.
The bottom line is obvious. KeystoneXL is the United State’s and Arkansas’ best choice for the security of our environment, our people and our nation.
Let’s get ‘er built!