TransCanada (the company behind the Keystone XL projects) has begun its process to construct a newly routed pipeline across Nebraska’s treasured farmlands, protected hills and lush scenery just days after the company’s Keystone XL pipeline burst in South Dakota causing at least 200,000 to upwards of 600,000 gallons of crude oil whiched spilled into nearby lands and drained into water ways.
Trump had reversed Obama’s rejection of the pipeline project by issuing a federal permit back in March allowing for the approval to go through and the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved the $8 billion dollar crude oil project Monday morning. According to the AP, Nebraska officials were forbidden from taking into account the recent TransCanada oil spill in South Dakota.
With a faulty pipeline builder creating yet another massive project that is nearly 1,200 miles long, it’s important to understand the context of the situation and what lessons Nebraskans can learn from other states. Part of the conversation with these influx of pipeline projects has been the claim that it’s a job provider but in reality only a few dozen permanent jobs will ever come from Keystone XL. It will certainly take hundreds if not thousands of construction workers to also work on these pipeline projects but these jobs are temporary, don’t pay that much and require the individual to move to a construction camp so they can live near the main project. This pipeline project scenario creates an entire chain of problems for surrounding communities including the increase in crime and sexual abuse while other sectors experience job loss.
TransCanada Just Proved How Unreliable Their Pipelines Are
The recent Keystone XL oil spill near a Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe reservation is further proof that these pipeline projects are hazardous to indigenous communities and happen far too often. The 2016 demonstrations at Standing Rock were just an amplification of what communities have been doing for decades to bring awareness to the harms that pipelines cause on many levels.
Speaking about the recent Keystone XL oil leak, one Public Utilities Commissioner who approved the South Dakota project in 2008 said “It is supposed to have an operating life of more than 100 years and it was supposed to be a state-of-the-art pipeline construction. It appears that it is not”. Commissioner Gary Hanson went on to express further frustration from the spills saying “We’ve had three fairly major leaks just on the border with North Dakota and two in South Dakota in a very short period of time. One might expect this to take place on a pipeline over a period of 30 or 40 years at the maximum, yet it’s been fewer than 10 years” (via Aberdeen News).
Barely Any Jobs Created By Pipeline Projects
These pipeline projects do not bring in many long-term jobs to local communities and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Infact, one Cornell University ILR Global Labor Institute’s study showcased how these pipelines actually kill jobs in the long term. The study takes into account the cost of rising gas prices due to the pipelines essentially relocating oil that could be refined in the Midwest into the Gulf region instead as well as the health risks associated which would cut jobs due to deteriorating health and disabilities acquired from the pollution that comes from burning these transported fuels.
Pipelines are meant to be low maintenance and with the increasingly relaxed oversight laws that leaves even fewer individuals who are hired to monitor and deal with disaster prevention not to mention the couple of dozen maintenance workers. On average infrastructure projects like highways and monuments create a handful of jobs, this pipeline is no exception with an estimated 35 jobs in total that will remain in the long term once the project is completed.
While it might take hundreds and even thousands of temporary construction crew members to initially start the pipeline project – those aren’t high-paying or sustainable jobs that will support families, those are temporary jobs that require relocation into quickly built man camps that are located nearby.
Construction Camps Notorious For Drugs & Violence Towards Young Women & Men
For some communities, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear about a pipeline project is rape, both in terms of sexual assault for local residents as well as to the earth. These trailer communities that are created to house the hundreds (and upwards to a thousand workers) at a time bring only temporary jobs which are far away from major cities and often near native borders. Man camps along indigenous borders and near reservation sites have been a factor in the rising number of missing and murdered indigenous women across Canada and the United States. It’s statistically shown that as more of these construction camps appear, more rape cases and crime are reported.
“One of the things we ran into while working up there was a 15 year old boy had gone missing. He was found in one of the Man Camps with one of the oil workers. They were passing him around from trailer to trailer.” – Former Rosebud Sioux Tribe Police Chief.
The sexual abuse and rape cases in communities near man camps jumps tends to skyrocket while construction projects are active. In North Dakota alone sexual abuse, murder, rape and robbery increased by 125% from 2005 to 2013. Human trafficking and drug sales spike as construction workers, typically coming from desperate conditions, take advantage of and contribute to the toxic rape culture.
Oh, Nebraskans. What are they doing to you?