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Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington May 28, 2021 “Pipelines”

Hello everybody out there in farm country.  This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association.  They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America.  Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

It is impossible to predict what new issue will hit the headlines. I didn’t expect gas and oil pipelines to be in the headlines. It all began on President Biden’s first day in the White House. He revoked the permit to complete the Keystone XL pipeline. After spending millions of dollars and 90 percent completed, he closed the door. If completed, it would be able to deliver more than 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries on our East Coast and would have created 13,000 jobs. 

Transporting oil or anything across the country is never risk-free, but even Biden’s staff acknowledges that compared to trucks or rail “the pipeline is the best way to go.” To help open our eyes to this fact we had the Colonial Pipeline shut down. Just last week we had cars and trucks unable to get needed fuel. Gas lines at the stations extended for blocks. What happened – cyber attackers from Eastern Europe or maybe Russia – we don’t know. They shut down our pipeline and demanded a ransom payment.  

We quickly gave them $4.4 million. That pipeline provides 45% of the fuel for the East Coast. I guess we had to pay them. We would have been shut down for weeks, maybe longer if we didn’t hand over the money. Trucks and trains could not have delivered the huge amount of fuel needed.  When paid the ransom hackers unlocked the system. Now we have fuel, and they have our money. There are two messages here.  

  1. Ransom thieves are likely to be a big problem in the years ahead, and
  2. When it comes to transporting oil and gas, we need pipelines. 

They are much safer, less expensive, and do far less damage to the planet than trucks and trains.

However, I am not sure we have learned. Governor Whitmer of Michigan is trying to close down the Enbridge Energy Line 5. That pipeline delivers more than half a million barrels of oil and natural gas through Canada and the Great Lakes. “A shutdown would cause a major propane shortage in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. We would lose 37,000 jobs.” In closing, I hope we learn something from all of this.

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.