Pipeline project must be a priority

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 18 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:46 am in

By Retired Major Gen. Gary Wattnem

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I was disappointed to see state Sen. Rob Hogg and state Rep. Bob Kaufmann recently voicing opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline through their letters to 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack and 1st District Congressman Bruce Braley.

Both lawmakers rooted their comments around the fact that the pipeline will run through residential land owned by Americans. There is no way of getting around that fact, as this is a 1,700-mile project. Sen. Hogg stated that it is not in America’s interest to allow a foreign oil company to condemn American farms and ranches. These remarks are outlandish at best.

America currently is very vulnerable by having to rely on countries in the Middle East to meet our domestic energy needs. Our relationships with these countries often have been adversarial at best. This is well evidenced by President Barack Obama’s announcement to withdraw all of the men and women in our armed forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year. This decision was made after Afghan President Hamid Karzai ignored Obama’s attempts to come to terms on a security agreement.

The risks associated with our oil acquisitions from the Middle East do not exist with Canada. Canada and the United States long have been reliable allies, great trading partners, and both stand to receive a very favorable economic boost from this pipeline.

This project will help fulfill our country’s energy needs while creating jobs for American workers. There will be 42,000 workers required during construction of the pipeline. The North Central states, especially Nebraska, will host these construction sites and be counting on Iowa’s labor unions to provide the manpower.

I would have thought that Mr. Hogg and Mr. Kaufmann would be supporting the opportunities this project offers to put Iowans to work. Instead, they are advocating against it. Their voices are not a true reflection of all of their constituents, nor of all Iowans.

As a retired general officer in the U.S. Army, my interests always firmly have been planted in our national security. The Keystone XL Pipeline represents a crucial step in strengthening our security, while enhancing our nation’s energy independence.

This project must be a priority, and it is time to get to work on it.

Retired Major Gen. Gary Wattnem resides in Mason City. He holds a B.A. in economics and earned numerous military decorations during his career, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Service Stars, Army Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Comments: gwattnem@gmail.com

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