TransCanada Spreads Money To Towns in Keystone Path

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A worker uses a grinder smooth a weld on the joint between two sections of pipe on a section of the Gulf Coast Project pipeline in Atoka, Oklahoma, March 11, 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas.

The Keystone XL pipeline is already paying dividends for tiny Circle, Montana — population just over 600 — even though construction hasn’t started and the project hasn’t been approved.

TransCanada Corp., Keystone’s sponsor, sent a check for $5,000 to the town’s local 4-H chapter. Circle got another $10,000 to upgrade its emergency response capability. Another $2,000 went to a local rodeo.

TransCanada, which proposed Keystone XL in 2008 to link Alberta’s oil sands with U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, says the pipeline will inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. The U.S. State Department is reviewing whether the project is in the national interest.

It already has meant a few thousand dollars for some of the small towns in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska where the line would run. In an effort to generate some goodwill, TransCanada has donated more than $85,000 to places like Circle, Malta, Bassett and O’Neill.

Terry, Montana, got $10,000 to renovate its swimming pool. The sheriff got another $5,000 for new equipment for a squad car.

TransCanada gave $5,000 to the local Harding County, South Dakota, Future Farmers of America chapter. The fire department in Colome, South Dakota, bought an infrared camera with its $5,000 donation.

Glendive, Montana, got $5,000 for school computers. Garfield, Brown and Keya Paha Counties in Nebraska received a $5,000 check, which they used to hire a summer intern to control noxious weeds.

“These investments are part of our overall community investment program, which is focused on supporting and giving back to the communities where we operate,” Grady Semmens, a spokesman for the company, said in an e-mail.
Last year, the company donated more than $11 million to community groups, he said.

Bill Sheele, mayor of Steele City, Nebraska, said TransCanada earlier gave the town $10,000 to fix up its town hall. The original Keystone pipeline, which cuts south from Saskatchewan through the eastern part of North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, runs by the town, also the end point for the XL project. From there it would connect with an existing pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma, and then a southern leg under construction to the Gulf Coast.

“Everybody in town is plumb for it,” Sheele said of the new project.

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