Full article published on Billings Gazette
Last week, the new Congress passed a bipartisan bill approving the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. While largely built, and already in operation today carrying oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Keystone expansion project has been caught in political limbo for more than six years. Despite overwhelming public support, the president has been on the record saying he will veto whatever bill is presented to him.
It is no surprise the new Congress chose Keystone XL as its top legislative priority. As a topic of national debate, the pipeline oftentimes embodies larger issues of energy security, climate change, and job creation. While pundits debate the symbolism and politics of the project, Montanans have questions that are more critical, related to its safety and the safety of the people, waters and land that will be near the proposed project. Understandably, the recent pipeline rupture and oil spill affecting the Yellowstone River has only amplified these questions for many residents.