Yesterday's NYT headline "A Pipeline Divides Along Old Lines: Jobs Versus the Environment," sums up well what's at stake, as does this excerpt:
Addressing that question [of whether the pipeline is in the national interest] — especially in the sprawling sweep of six huge states through which the pipeline or its pump stations would run like a spine — takes in a universe of conflicting, interlocking issues, from short-term economics to global climate, from the discontent of a rural belt losing population to issues of national energy security, joblessness, corporate power and prices at the corner pump.As the headline suggests, the conflict between jobs and the environment is really "old" news. What was different about this report were some of journalists Kirk Johnson and Dan Frosch's characterizations of rural people and places, as well as quotes from the Montanans they interviewed. Here's the first:
It's interesting to see journalists acknowledge how insignificant these individual land owners and their property are in the great scheme of things. No sentimentality there. The second quote is from Glendive mayor Jerry Jimison, which Johnson and Frosch characterize as containing a veiled threat.
And people in rural areas like eastern Montana say they also know that the dry and mostly empty ranchlands where they live are not, and never have been, places of high consequence.
“Nobody wants to be told they’re of low consequence,” said Tim Hess, 65, a wheat farmer and cattle rancher born and raised here in Montana who would have about 1.5 miles of pipe cross his land but still did not know how much he would be paid for it.
All I ask is that you treat the 50,000 people in these six counties [in Montana through which the pipeline would flow] with respect and dignity ... That will affect the long-term relationship into the future.A threat perhaps, but I read the statement as reflecting fear as much as anything else--fear that the pipeline company will not compensate them fairly, and perhaps also fear about short-term and long-term environmental damage to their land and their livelihoods.
NPR has covered the pipeline story closely this week, and you can find other stories about public hearings in Nebraska and Oklahoma here, here and here.