Gov. Noem explains how Biden canceling Keystone pipeline is ‘devastating’ for South Dakota families

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to arbitrarily cancel the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying several smaller communities in her state were counting on the growth opportunity it would’ve brought them.

In an interview Tuesday with “Fox News Primetime,” Noem told host Rachel Campos-Duffy she supports diversifying the country’s energy production but added that over-reliance on so-called “green energy” such as wind and solar can be dangerous, as evidenced by the massive power outages in Texas caused by frozen wind turbines this week amid record-low temperatures.

She went on to note that regarding the pipeline itself, some of the infrastructure to support it had already been built and communities were anticipating revenue windfalls that now are not forthcoming.

“The pipeline was being built through the state of South Dakota. In fact, they had already built a couple of pumping stations, they had the pipeline laid out ready to be installed, and then when he pulled the permits, everything just stopped,” Noem, a Republican, said.

“There are so many families that have told their stories in recent days about the devastation to them and their incomes and businesses. We had restaurants and motels, gas stations that had expanded, getting ready for the workers that were going to be there [for] the next several years building the pipeline,” she added.

“They were excited about the opportunities to get the property taxes in these local small schools from the pipeline. It was always going to be a source of revenue that would help them keep their roads fixed and commerce going and make sure that their teachers could be well-paid. In a lot of these remote areas … that is a little challenging,” Noem continued.

Biden signed an order halting the pipeline’s construction on his first day in office, as well as additional orders halting fracking and new oil and gas leases on federal lands. His actions were immediately lambasted by a range of critics including trade unions, economists, and Native American tribes.

In a letter to acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega, Luke Duncan, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee, called Biden’s orders “a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination.”

The tribe has operated an oil-and-gas operation on its 4.5 million-acre reservation for seven decades.

In addition, Reps. Vincente Gonzalez, Lizzie Fletcher, Henry Cuellar, and Marc Veasey — all Texas Democrats — sent a letter to Biden late last month asking him to rescind them for the sake of economies in their districts. 

“A federal ban for any period of time will certainly imperil hundreds of thousands of jobs, entire communities, and billions of dollars in royalty revenues to the Federal Treasury and eliminate funding for important conservation programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF),” they wrote, adding that in sum, Biden’s orders will cost the U.S. $700 in GDP.

“Instead, we should invest in our nation’s infrastructure and create the jobs that will help our nation emerge stronger after this pandemic,” the lawmakers added.

Unions, which Biden courted during his campaign, also blasted his orders.

“The Biden Administration’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline permit on day one of his presidency is both insulting and disappointing to the thousands of hard-working … members who will lose good-paying, middle-class family-supporting jobs,” Terry O’Sullivan, the general president of the Laborers International Union of North America, said.

Fourteen state attorneys general, including South Dakota AG Jason R. Ravnsborg, have since warned they would sue the administration if Biden refused to rescind his pipeline cancellation.

In her interview with Campos-Duffy, Noem said communities impacted by the cancellation lost their futures “overnight.”

“I think for a lot of families in the state of South Dakota, it was devastating,” she said, adding that transporting oil via the pipeline would have been “much safer” than transporting it by truck and by rail, as is now being done.

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Jon Dougherty

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