Pipeline populism: complete, build

Robert Bradley

President Donald Trump is about to give the U.S. economy a power-up. He just approved the long delayed construction of two megaprojects, Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines.

This means more domestic energy, more economic growth, and more jobs for Americans. But it also means more theatrics from environmental extremists. The new president and his team should hang tough and ignore their doomsday predictions.

Keystone XL will transport oil from Canada to Nebraska. The Obama administration blocked Phase IV, claiming it would “undercut” America’s role as a leader in the fight against climate change.

The Dakota Access pipeline will carry 500,000 barrels of oil a day. The Obama administration stopped construction when it was nearly complete. This came after protests promoting the baseless claim that the pipeline would harm the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

President Trump, in his first full week in office, brought both pipeline projects back to life. He promised to streamline “the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process” and cut unnecessary environmental regulations. This is good news.

Green Hysteria

To say that the reaction from extreme greens was overwrought would be an understatement.

“Keystone XL is a carbon bomb that would cook the planet,” cried the environmental advocacy group 350.org.

“Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he’s already proving to be the dangerous threat to our climate we feared he would be,” squealed Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

Such hyperbole and misdirection are at least a half-century old. In the 1960s, Paul Ehrlich et al. warned us about mass starvation from the population bomb. The famine scare continued in the 1970s with resource exhaustion.

Now, climate-alarmist smears are being recycled to drum up fundraising dollars for environmental groups.

Eco-friendly, Economical

Histrionics aside, there are good reasons why the new president is moving forward with the pipelines.

Pipelines are the safest way to move oil — safer, in fact, than rail or road. The great majority of energy transported via pipeline — 99.999 percent — reaches its final destination safely.

That’s because pipelines are carefully constructed and monitored. The industry constantly upgrades its systems to include the most advanced safety technology.

What’s more, federal and state governments alike have reviewed Keystone and Dakota and concluded that they are safe for the environment.

Even the Washington Post Editorial Board recently acknowledged the overreach by environmental activists.

Dakota Access poses no threat. The pipeline will be placed deeper and farther away from existing infrastructure than mandated by government regulations.

To ramp up fears around these pipelines, activists are pointing to two oil spills. Neither is cause for alarm. The more recent of the two caused no injuries and did not get anywhere near drinking water supplies. The other did not even take place in the United States.

Pipeline to Jobs

The pipelines are not only environmentally friendly, but also economically beneficial. Keystone XL would involve 42,000 jobs in construction and add $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP.

Dakota Access, which has already involved 12,000 jobs, will produce $55 million in taxes. It will spur millions of dollars in investment.

President Trump should be applauded for his decision to kick-start the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

One can only hope that the Democratic Party returns to its roots as the party of the small person, now known as the forgotten man and forgotten woman. Fossil-fuel populism, not environmental extremism, is winning politics.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Energy Research.