According to a new CNN Money article, the Obama administration’s rejection of the proposed Keystone pipeline project has some small business owners crying “foul”, while others are applauding the move.
When the first line of the proposed 1,179-mile TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline was built in 2010, small businesses in the Nebraska towns of Steele City and Fairbury reaped the benefits as engineers and construction workers descended on their communities.
Hotels and motels were among the biggest beneficiaries. Owner of the Fairbury Executive Suites Julie Katz saw the oil sands pipeline as a much-needed economic shot in the arm, not just for her business but for the entire area. She describes the Obama administration’s refusal to move forward with the project as “crippling” and sees it as purely political.
“This is politics, and we are paying the price,” says Katz. “There are some mom-and-pop stores in these small towns that will not survive through this political season, because they have built a lot of their hopes on an economic boom coming through this area again.”
Last Wednesday, President Obama rejected the proposal to build the pipeline, claiming there was not enough time to fully assess the potential health and environmental impact of the project.
The president’s actions have also angered Margo D’Angelo whose Salty Dog Saloon was filled to capacity during lunch hours during construction of a pipeline pumping station near Steele City.
D’Angelo said the pipeline project was a boon, “not only for me but hotels, car dealerships and repair shops. If other people are doing well, then I do well.” She had planned to add additional wait staff and cooks to handle the business generated by the pipeline’s construction. Now she’s looking at the possibility of having to lay off some workers.
Fairbury, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce executive director Sharon Priefert told CNN Money, “We’re in an area where there’s just not a lot going on right now. We have a farming community, but that doesn’t necessarily support restaurants and small retail businesses.”
Despite the economic impact of President Obama’s decision, some see the wisdom of erring on the side of caution. The proposed pipeline right of way would span the Ogallala Aquifer water table which covers approximately 174,000 square miles and provides water to about 82 percent of the people living within its boundaries, including nearly the entire population of Nebraska.
Adam Hintz, co-owner of Meadowlark Coffee and Espresso in Lincoln, Nebraska said, “We use water in the majority of what we serve. It needs to be protected. If people are worried it’ll hurt jobs, hurting our water system will take away a lot of jobs; especially agricultural jobs and even service industry jobs.”