Senator Jon Tester held a Facebook Live question and answer session on Wednesday afternoon on a variety of topics, but had much to say about his views on the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project he says he continues to support.

“I have supported it from the beginning,” said Tester. “I think it's a good project for Montana because in the short term it has good paying jobs, and in the long term it has good significant tax revenue for counties in eastern Montana that have been pounded by this pandemic and pounded by the last administration's trade wars. Ag prices aren't exactly cherry and they are reflected in the fact that surveys are out now showing 40% of the income last year that we got in agriculture came from the federal government, and that's not sustainable and it's not good.”

Tester said he has many concerns about the pipeline.

“The fact is that I've said from the beginning it needs to be constructed responsibly using American steel, have the highest safety standards because leaks don't do anybody any good. They should respect private property rights. I don't want anybody running over the farmers and ranchers in this route, and they should have significant consultation with tribes that are impacted by this pipeline, and I think it's really important.”

Tester also brought up the topic of climate change by referencing his family farm.

“Many of you know that I'm a farmer in real life, and on my farm, I've seen firsthand the impacts of climate change, and we need to do something about it,” he said. “But the bottom line is we do that through research and development and finding carbonless ways to create energy that are affordable for America. We just can't shut off the spigot; it doesn't work that way. A lot of people would be broke if that happens.”

Tester said that politics has become entangled in the pipeline and that all stakeholders need to sit down together to discuss the issue.

“This is what I believe can happen and I hope does happen,” he said. “I hope folks from all sides will set aside the incredible politicization of this pipeline and sit at the table and work together and come up with a solution that works, and I think that's possible. I've seen it happen in forest management and other issues. Communication is really important when there's a disagreement. Right now folks are in their corners and there isn't a lot of conversation or communication and I think it's important that we have that conversation.”

President Biden signed an executive order cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline the day after he was sworn in.

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