Neither of the two Democratic candidates for the 14th Congressional District hail the pending expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline as the economic catalyst supporters believe it to be.
But only one of the candidates is willing to even consider supporting the plan.
The U.S. State Department recently released a report saying the pipeline expansion would not cause any significant environmental damage as several opponents had feared. The pipeline would neither fuel more oil extraction, nor create more demand at U.S. refineries, the report concluded. The pipeline would even be a safer alternative to transporting the 830,000 daily barrels of oil than the sea-based shipping, rail or truck methods that will be used without the expansion, the report said.
But none of that was enough to sell Democrats Dennis Anderson and John Hosta on the expansion.
Hosta, of Spring Grove, said Congress must ensure the U.S. receives a guaranteed financial gain of at least $1 billion a year and $25 billion in franchise rights before even considering the expansion.
Unless that happens, Hosta said, the expansion will only amount to "wealth creation for only a select few people" with a minimum amount of jobs and new tax dollars for the rest of America.
"I don't want to see the American public being taken advantage of," Hosta said. "This is like someone putting a pipeline through your backyard, and you getting $1,200 a year while they get millions."
Hosta said the path to cheaper energy involves wind and solar power. Congress should provide developers of those energy technologies with tax credits and loans to encourage their activities.
Anderson said the tar sands technology, which the Keystone XL pipeline expansion would encourage, is a not the future of energy production he would like to see.
"The Keystone pipeline is a bad idea," Anderson said. "Tar sands are a bad source of energy. And tar sands mined in Canada and shipped across the midsection of our country is an even worse idea. You're not going to see lower gas prices from it. You're not going to see lower energy prices. It's a Canadian product that's going to be sold elsewhere."
Both candidates said ongoing environmental regulation is a necessity to keep corporations accountable when incidents, such as the recent leakage of 10,000 gallons of chemicals
into the West Virginia water supply, occur.
Anderson said there is no excessive environmental regulation that is slowing down the economy as some people conservative pundits suggest.
"It's not the EPA; it's the lack of customers," Anderson said. "Environmental regulations don't hurt business. We need to make sure that when someone is manufacturing something that the costs of doing so are built into their pricing structure."
Proponents of the pipeline have cited the expected job creation benefits as a reason for their support. The report by the U.S. State Department estimates 42,000 jobs. Many of those would be temporary and/or seasonal construction jobs. Some other reports indicate only 35 permanent jobs, including some in Canada, would be created by the pipeline expansion.