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Get the best deal on pipeline

I am against this travesty in which we become vassals of foreign states — better to bring back the timber industry; that at least gave real people real jobs.

This project reminds me of King Midas: As wealthy as he was, he wanted more, so he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. At first, he was delighted — gold and more gold! Then he called to his little daughter, but at his touch, she too turned to gold, a cold, dead statue. Then he grew hungry and thirsty, but all his food and drink turned to gold, too.

As much as I hate the idea of this pipeline, I wonder if we will be able to stop it. I am a survivor of the Hurricane Katrina evacuation and nine years of the storm’s aftermath. In the massive reconstruction that followed, I saw little that got done that wasn’t in the best interests of the wealthiest and most powerful. There are powers that want this pipeline and it will not be easy to turn it back.

If it must go through, let’s be sure we get the best deal possible. I am not an engineer, so I can’t speak to the safety of a utility such as this passing through some of the roughest and most pristine wilderness this nation has to offer. But I am a historian — what will this pipeline look like in 100, 200 years?

Forget the warm fuzzys of the spotted owl and the salmon. Who will be responsible for maintenance? Will it look like the crumbling infrastructure of our cities, where old gas lines explode, destroying whole neighborhoods? What will be the effects of natural disasters — wildfires and fire storms, earthquakes and tsunamis? Will the jobs generated be worth the cost of mitigation in the event of a disaster?

And speaking of jobs — our people need to be trained now to ensure that they are the ones hired. Most of the jobs in post-Katrina New Orleans, even the most basic labor of cleanup, went to outsiders and did little to benefit the people who most needed the work.

By the way, I also witnessed the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The infrastructure and funding to protect present and future populations must be in place before this pipeline is built. Let’s be sure that the companies put aside funds now to mitigate against worst-case scenarios. Be sure they invest in our community colleges and universities to train locals now for these promised jobs.

Are the companies that will profit from this project willing to set aside up-front money and a specified percentage of annual profits into a mitigation fund now? If so, at least we taxpayers and residents will be less likely to have to pay for poor results.

Dorian Hastings lives in Talent.