As Charles Barber walks over remnants of last autumn’s corn harvest, it’s impossible to tell the existing Keystone Pipeline System runs deep beneath his feet. Since the pipeline began operation in July 2010, more than 600-million barrels of oil have safely traveled through the Keystone pipeline that runs through Barber’s farm.
“The ground doesn’t look any different than it did beforehand, or the ground lying next to it,” says Barber. “You farm it; you don’t even know it’s even there. This hasn’t changed any of our process on the way we farm.”
Five years ago, Barber was visited by a TransCanada team member and learned that phase one of the Keystone Pipeline System would soon run through his area. After attending the meetings and learning about the project, TransCanada team members continued to meet with the Barbers to discuss taking the pipeline through their land to its destination in Steele City, Neb.
“[TransCanada] gives you plenty of time to concentrate on their proposals to work through it and to see whether you think it’s a beneficial proposal to yourself,” says Barber, who notes that TransCanada team members worked closely with his family to come to an agreeable arrangement.
“We’ve been treated more than fairly . . . The individuals that we’ve worked with have all been very polite and trustworthy . . . they’ve all negotiated with us very openly. As far as my family’s concerned, they’re all welcome in my house anytime.”
Barber also notes that after his positive experience with phase one, he and his family were happy to negotiate with TransCanada to allow the Keystone XL portion of the pipeline system through their farm. This proposed 1,179-mile crude oil pipeline will begin in Hardisty, Alta., and travel south to Steele City, where it will connect up with the same Keystone pipeline that runs through Barber’s land. Along with transporting crude oil from Canada, the Keystone XL Pipeline will transport domestically produced US crude oil from producers in Texas, Oklahoma, Montana and North Dakota.
“You know, when you’ve got 11,000 miles of pipeline already buried in the state of Nebraska, I don’t know what all the fuss is about this one,” says Barber, adding, “Keystone XL Pipeline is important to the people of Nebraska, farmers especially, because we all need the fuel. If we don’t have fuel to put in our tractors or trucks, we don’t farm or run our irrigation pivots.”
Five years after the project went through, metal signs marking the location of the line are the only indication that Keystone runs beneath the Barbers’ crops, which include corn, soy beans, wheat and alfalfa.
“KXL Pipeline . . . if they want to come through me again, send them down. We’ll negotiate with them. We’ve been treated very, very fairly; I don’t think you’ll find anybody in this community that say we haven’t been.”
On the day when the National Interest Determination period was slated to close, it’s important to consider the opinions of people such as Charles Barber, and the majority of affected Americans, who see the phenomenal value KXL will provide to the United States.