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Railing against Keystone XL, Willie and Neil are Hurting Farmers

Two celebrity singers known for supporting America’s farmers will perform at a pipeline protest in Nebraska on Saturday despite the outcome of their advocacy damaging the livelihood of farmers throughout the Midwest.

“The real world impacts of failing to build Keystone XL are causing damaging ripple effects,” said Michael Whatley of Consumer Energy Alliance. “Farmers need the rail service to move their harvest to market. I am not sure Willie and Neil understand they are hurting people who would be helped by building the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

The problem

An official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture told Congress at a hearing held in September that the rail-jam is happening and it is hurting farmers.


Railroad congestion has been a problem for grain handlers, Arthur Neal, a deputy administrator for transportation and marketing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told a Senate committee during a hearing on Sept. 10. Since October 2013, the USDA has reported delays, missed shipments, backlogs and higher costs for railroad services for U.S. grain shippers, Neal testified.”

Farmers looking to ship their harvest are in direct competition with Bakken crude oil which is being shipped by rail because there is not a safer pipeline alternative.  The U.S. Department of Energy reports the number of barrels of Bakken oil being shipped by rail doubled from 2012 to 2013.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“…if all the railcars loaded with crude on one day were hitched to a single locomotive, the resulting train would be about 29 miles long.”

The New York Times:

The furious pace of energy exploration in North Dakota is creating a crisis for farmers whose grain shipments have been held up by a vast new movement of oil by rail, leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for breakfast cereal giants like General Mills.”

The solution 

The Keystone XL Pipeline was first proposed in 2008. The last leg includes a not often mentioned onramp for shipments of North Dakota crude oil.  The onramp would safely deliver 100,000 barrels of North Dakota crude oil to Gulf Coast refiners – a day. That is 100,000 barrels not being shipped by rail, and not competing with American farmers who are trying to move their crop to market.

Michael Whatley is hopeful the information will give the performers perspective. “Before Willie and Neil take the stage to rail against Keystone XL they should spend some time in the real world thinking about the farmers they are running over.”