By Doc Clements
Springtime on a cattle farm is a busy time. Pregnancies checks, calves coming, synchronization for breeding and artificial insemination. So when my phone rang the other day and I took time out to talk to friend, I hoped it was important . We differ politically, but I respect his beliefs. After a few minutes of small talk, we got to the crux of the call. He wanted to lodge his complaint about the high gas prices and the fact that Biden shut down the Keystone Pipeline. I had to stop him immediately and ask where he acquired his information. He assured me it was highly accurate because the Republican Legislature in Harrisburg and our own State Senator Gephardt had passed a resolution asking that the Keystone Pipeline be turned back on! Really, can you imagine 28 State Senators failed to do their homework and are WRONG? You can’t turn on what was NEVER shut off.
SO, here are the some true facts. The Keystone Pipeline opened in June of 2010. The pipeline extends from Hardisty, Alberta, and ends in Roxana and Patoka, Illinois. It delivers tar sands crude oil. The Keystone Pipeline delivers 675,000 barrels daily. At least three additional phases of the pipeline have been constructed and commissioned since 2010. The last phase in 2017 ended in Houston, Texas. All four segments of the original Keystone pipeline are OPEN and fully operational. President Biden did not shut down the Keystone pipeline. For the sake of clarity, I repeat, President Biden did not shut the Keystone Pipeline down.
In January of 2021, President Biden cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline. Only eight percent of the pipeline had been constructed in Canada. The project would have taken four to five years to complete. Cancellation came on the heels of concerns that burning of oil sands hasten environmental changes that significantly contribute to global warming. Further, the route of the pipeline through indigenous lands raised serious tribal fears of water contamination. Environmental groups have projected that similar dollar investments in renewable energy sources would yield as many good paying jobs, provide equal, if not greater, energy resources and significantly reduce environmental impact.
Gas prices have greatly accelerated from mid-pandemic levels when no one was driving and gas was $1.68/gallon. A barrel of oil could barely fetch twenty dollars, far below the cost of production. Obviously, new drilling was not going to happen in a market that did not yield profit. The US has been, and continues to be, the number one oil producer in the world but when drilling ceased the market place was set up for a rapid stockpile depletion when demand returned. In addition, it would also result in a major lag time to the return of productive drilling. Unfortunately, unforeseen geopolitical issues have also greatly affected the world supply.
I have often said that we control the price of utilities to ensure availability and fair pricing. I believe that the same controls are necessary for the oil and gas industry. A utilities style commission would promote continued exploration and drilling and guarantee fair profits and fair market prices.
I suspect that we all have our favorite theories for the cause of rising gas prices but telling inaccurate stories isn’t helpful and very divisive. When a state legislative body and State Senator tells an inaccurate story, it is down right shameful. We expect our leaders to be forthright regardless of political party.