Obama's Keystone Delays Are Hurting Farmers Too


The Keystone pipeline issue is often seen strictly through the lense of energy policy, but that’s not really accurate. It’s not just “big oil” versus the Obama administration. Given that America’s industrial infrastructure is complex and overlapping, Obama’s political decision to never, ever make a decision on the Keystone pipeline isn’t just hurting the energy industry.

It’s hurting farmers too.

“It takes 1,400 rail cars moving through the region every day to carry the same amount of oil that the Keystone XL pipeline will move,” Senator John Hoeven, the ringleader for a majority of Congress who want the pipeline approved told the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association over the weekend. “They could be carrying wheat or soybeans or fertilizer. That’s a darn good reason in itself for building the Keystone XL, and more pipelines like it. Combined with the major investments the railroads have committed to make in infrastructure, we could see a real difference in moving ag products.”

Allowing me to put some math to Hoeven’s comment.

Via data collected and distributed by Rep. Kevin Cramer’s office, CP Rail and Burlington Northern have averaged 5,612 delayed grain cars per week since early October, a situation that is only slightly improving of late:


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If the Keystone pipeline were built by now – something which would be true were it not for Obama’s intransigence – there would be 1,400 cars per day of rail capacity available for agriculture, or about 9,800 per week.

Back in January of last year state Democrat party chairman Bob Valeu argued that the Keystone pipeline is of little benefit to North Dakota.

Clearly, North Dakota’s agriculture producers should feel otherwise. The Keystone pipeline delay (and the obstruction of other pipeline projects it has inspired) hasn’t just hurt domestic energy producers, who could certainly use the benefits of an improved infrastructure to offset the hit they’re taking in lower prices, but it has hurt other industries too.

Which is the sort of thing that happens when ideology and partisan politics trump sound and pragmatic regulation.

Obama and his fellow anti-fossil fuel zealots aren’t just hurting the oil industry. They’re hurting America.