Oil workers last month kept the center of Steele City in Nebraska busy: they were regulars at the laundromat, The Salty Dog Saloon, the only bar in the hamlet. Now the oil workers are gone and the snowy streets are deserted. Until recently, work was underway on a major pumping station for America’s most controversial pipeline, the Keystone XL.
On his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order that immediately stopped construction of the Keystone XL. Environmental activists and concerned landowners, the self-proclaimed Keystone Fightersheaved a sigh of relief after years of battling the pipeline. But for the 1,000 employees already in place, a period of economic uncertainty has begun amid the pandemic. The energy company predicted in October that the Keystone XL would create 11,000 jobs this year.
The moment Biden put his signature on, the effects became immediately apparent. “My supervisor told me that the next day I just had to come to work to collect my payslip. Then I was able to leave, ”says Tiernee Fichter, who worked at a local gas station, enthusiastically. “I don’t know what to do next. I am unemployed, on welfare. I do what I can, but it’s difficult. “
In 2008, energy company Transcanada, now TC Energy, announced its plans to build the Keystone XL. The pipeline would cross the United States to connect Canada’s tar sands, the sandy soils from which oil is extracted, to Nebraska. In Steele City, the Keystone XL was able to connect to an existing pipeline to oil refineries in Texas.
Jeanne Crumly opens a rusty door to the fields of her family farm in the upstate. The Keystone XL’s planned route was going under her cornfields, she absolutely didn’t want to. “This land is our inheritance, we want to leave it better than how we got it.”
“Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover.”