Robert Jones seems like a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean I trust him any further than I can throw him (and since I’m short, I probably can’t do more than nudge him).

The V-P of Keystone Pipelines took to the op-ed section of the LJS this weekend touting the benefits of the pipeline his company wants to build in Nebraska.  And I’ll admit that he’s got some valid points.  Then again, big money promised smoking cigarettes wasn’t that bad and look how that turned out.  Here’s what Jones argues:

The Keystone XL pipeline would create jobs.  I won’t argue with that.  You can’t build a brand, spanking new pipeline without creating a job here or there.  Though Jones estimates 20,000 construction jobs will be created nationally, while the TransCanada spokesman Jeff Rauh (who no longer returns my calls, but who can blame him) quoted 13,000 jobs to me back in June.  So there’s some discrepancy in their estimates.

Secondly, about 1,000 to 1,200 pipeline construction jobs — again, depending on who you’re talking to at TransCanada — will be created in Nebraska.  And according to Rauh, only 10-15% of those jobs will go to Nebraskans.  It’s critical to make the distinction that not all jobs created in Nebraska will go to Nebraskans.  If you do the math, we’re looking at 100-180 construction jobs for Nebraskans in Nebraska.

Jones’s estimate that the Keystone XL will offer 118,000 man-years of employment also looks like a sweet deal.  With 20,000 jobs that averages out to a little less than 6 years of employment for every construction job.  And I can’t object to people’s needs to do what they are trained to do, put food on their family’s table and clothes on their backs.

But think about the potential jobs the pipeline could cost.  When oil leaks from the pipeline — and it will leak, even TransCanada admits that — it could leak into the aquifer which provides 30% of Nebraska’s irrigation water.  Consider all the farms, towns and families that would devastate.  The aquifer also provides 2 million Americans clean drinking water.  And, as Nebraskans know, water is a fighting word these days.

Jones tries to tell us it’s all worth it because we’ll be providing oil to America from our friendly neighbor to the north.  That’s bull because the oil will be sold on the international market, meaning there’s no guarantee it will stay in the states.  Even if it did stay in the US, tar sands are the most expensive oil in the world.  It won’t drive prices at the pump down (and you’ll notice Jones steers away from claiming that it would).  In fact, it’s likely to drive prices up.

Why would Nebraskans support the dirtiest oil in the world that could destroy our most precious natural resource?  Why not put money into long-term, “made in the USA” energy jobs that will employ more Nebraskans without risking our farmers’ livelihoods?

The biggest mistake most out-of-staters make is to assume Nebraskans are simple.  They don’t consider that we’re home to Warren Buffet, Malcolm X, Henry Fonda, Johnny Carson, Willa Cather, one of the Twitter creators and Alexander Payne.  Robert Jones is making the same mistake.

He and TransCanada can make their claims that the pipeline will be safe, landowners respected, and it’s all good for America.  But Nebraskans aren’t falling for it.  We see the pipeline’s big risk and how TransCanada’s bullied landowners.  We won’t back off for a few measly shekels and a smile.


You can help over the next few days.  TransCanada is holding “secret” meetings, and we know the times and locations.  So join us for one of these meetings, bring a sign or borrow one of ours and tell the sweet-faced execs from TransCanada, “We don’t want a spill to hit our home.”  Email if we’ll see you there.

Please arrive at 6:30pm…

Sunday September 12, York Auditorium (6th and Nebraska)
Monday September 13, Greeley Courthouse (28th St & Kildare St)
Tuesday September 14, Atkinson Community Center (206 West 5th Street)