Sidney Herald: Tester says a path still exists to get Keystone built

by Renee Jean

Sen. Jon Tester believes there is still a chance for the Keystone Pipeline to get built, despite the Biden administration’s recent decision killing the pipeline’s authorization to cross in to the United States. Tester told the Sidney Herald during his statewide rural call that he is working to influence people around the president, who he believes will be able to sway Biden to change his mind.

“I don’t want to give anyone false hope,” Tester said. “I but I just talked to the Prime Minster, and I don’t think this project is dead yet. There is still opportunity to bring people together, so I’m working to bring (Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe) together with the Biden administration.”

Tester said he believes if he can get the right people to the table to talk about what the pipeline is really all about, that can help shift the narrative more to the middle and the practical realities that are out there.

“There are hundreds of pipelines that go across that border.” Tester said. “And it’s much safer to put (oil and gas) into a pipe than it is a train or a truck.”

Tester added that while he is for the energy “adaptations” that Democrats want to make – shifting to renewables and away from fossil fuels for energy – the nation is just not there yet, and won’t be for some time.

“Until we get there, we need oil and coal and carbon-based energies,” he said. “So we are going to try to keep influencing the folks who influence the president, because I think that is where the action is right now.”

As far as recent legislation introduced by his colleagues in the Montana Congressional delegation, to congressionally authorize Keystone, Tester said he’s not sure what chances that would have to become law. The measure would obviously have to gain enough support to overcome a potential veto by the Biden administration.

“I don’t know about the legislation per se,” Tester said. “But I do think we still have a chance to get this pipeline built.”

Tester has also been working to get the Amtrak passenger rail service rolling again, and recently introduced legislation to reinstate furloughed Amtrak employees and return complete long-distance service to routes like the Empire Builder.

“The service reductions Amtrak put in place have devastated communities along the Highline,” Tester said.

“Long-distance Amtrak service creates good paying jobs on the Hi-Line, generates revenue for Montana’s frontier communities, and keeps folks connected with family and friends across the country,” Tester said in a recent media release. “These cuts were an unacceptable attack on rural America, and my legislation will right that wrong by reinstating Montana’s furloughed Amtrak employees and restoring full long-distance service to the Empire Builder. Our state has been hit hard by the pandemic, and my bill will help put our economy back on track and get Montanans back to work.”

That bill is so far getting bipartisan support in the region, Tester said during his rural call.

On vaccinations, Tester said he will continue to push for Montanan to get its fair share of vaccine, and said progress has been made on getting more vaccine to veterans in the state.

The day is coming soon, the Senator added, when getting shots to people is going to boil down to an education campaign, rather than supply issues.

“People are receiving some bad information, which I think is making them not want to take the shot,” he said. “And I think it is critically important that we get as many folks as possible to take it.”

Tester himself recently got the the shots, he added.

“My ar was sore for a bit, but the truth is (getting the shot) was like taking a giant weight off my shoulder,” he said.

Those who have underlying conditions especially need to get the shot, Tester added.

“I’ve talked to some folks in diabetes prevention, and they said the incidence of diabetes goes up if you have had COVID. That is something people need to know about and these vaccines can help solve that.”

But, beyond that, those who don’t get the shots are a vector for new COVID-19 variants, any one of which might mutate into something that is not only more deadly, but that the current vaccines can’t protect against.

“So far, these vaccines are effective against the variants, but there’s no saying that will continue if it can continue to morph,” Tester said. “And that would be yet another setback to our economy and our overall health.”