PHILLIP, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Congressman, Dusty Johnson, and two of North Dakota’s State Representatives gathered Monday with local businesses affected by the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
TransCanada Energy first proposed the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline in 2008. Phillip is one of many communities along the 1,200-mile project’s proposed path. Last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order halting the construction of the pipeline which would have delivered crude oil from Western Canada to Midwest refineries.
Today more than a dozen people from the Black Hills area came to share their concerns with State Representatives.
“I don’t want it to end here. I’ve been fighting for this and making phone calls, I won’t give up, it’s what we need,” Jeff Birkeland, West Central Electric, said.
Owner Tricia Burns says the Ignite Wellness Studio has potentially lost 165 memberships which is about $10,700 in revenue.
“There’s no certainty at all with anything it seems anymore. So what does the future hold? If we continue to lose jobs and people continue to leave, will we have enough locals to support our business? It’s some difficult conversations,” Burns said.
Even more than the lost revenue, Burns believes the town has lost some great community members.
“It’s not just the money but it’s the lives too,” Burns said.
Representative Dusty Johnson says these personal stories will fuel the fight against President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel work on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“It’s hard to talk about the future of community when an opportunity that you thought was going to be there disappeared because, as so many of you said, the swipe of one pen and that means a lot. It’s a powerful story and it’ll be more powerful because of what you shared,” Rep. Johnson said.
Not everyone opposes the President’s executive order, in fact some celebrated it.
Environmentalists and many tribal leaders don’t want the project to move forward because there could be oil spills and it could make climate change worse.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is so opposed to the project, in 2019 the tribe issued a resolution saying all Keystone XL trucks must immediately turn around and leave the reservation.