Senator-Elect Mike Rounds based his campaign on a series of laughable lies, including the claim that building the Keystone XL pipeline will drive trains to every farmer's doorstep to haul away their grain.
Would you believe the railroads themselves don't buy that argument? An eager reader sends me this BNSF newsletter from Winter 2013, before Republicans Doctor Moreau'ed Keystone XL and agricultural rail service, in which the company says Keystone XL will have little impact on its business choices:
Huge growth in Canadian crude oil production is expected in the next 20 years. In anticipation of the growth, many crude-loading facilities are currently under construction in Canada, and many more are being planned. Even if the Keystone XL pipeline is built, the growth in production is projected to exceed the capacity of the Keystone.
In addition, rail provides some unique advantages, including destination flexibility, and reduces time-to-market. Rail also has the potential to move the heavy bitumen crude with little to no diluent; pipelines require a diluent of 30 percent to flow. These all bring value to our customers, and so we see crude-by-rail being a key player in the Canadian market regardless of whether the Keystone XL is built [Teresa Perkins, "Oil Will Continue to Be Important Cargo at BNSF," Railway newsletter, Winter 2013].
Perkins says BNSF has invested $3 billion in crude oil rail facilities and tank cars (which can't haul grain). It would seem unlikely BNSF is going to let those assets sit idle just because Mike Rounds wants them to haul grain for a couple months a year. BNSF also contends that rail is cheaper and more flexible for Bakken shippers, which suggests Keystone XL is a non-starter for our North Dakota oil baron neighbors.
BNSF chief Matt Rose underlined this business analysis just last month:
BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose says that even if the controversial Keystone would not take away business from BNSF. “I don’t think it would take business,” Rose says. “I think it would make the curve of our growth go down a little bit."
Rose tells Fox Business News that Keystone will not take away its crude oil business because the pipeline would largely carry heavy crude south, while pipelines won’t be able to handle all the crude oil destined for east and west coasts. BNSF is a major mover of crude oil from the Bakken formation ["Rose: Keystone Pipeline Won't Take Away from BNSF Oil Business," Trains, 2014.10.01].
We'll see how long it takes for business reality to set in with Mike Rounds and the pro-Keystone XL Republicans. The only pipeline we're going to need is the ink pipeline to load President Obama's veto pen against all of the Congressional Republicans bad ideas.