One such town in rural South Dakota had invested heavily in their businesses in order to provide for an influx of workers the project had brought. Some businesses had even secured contracts with various companies working on the pipeline, but now have been left in deep debt and face a bleak future.
Presidents of Philip, a small town with less than 900 people, knew that the construction and extra business was temporary, but also knew that the revenue it was to generate would have long-lasting effects on their economy.
Tricia Burns is the owner of a popular fitness center in Philip called Ignite Wellness Studio, a place many Keystone workers frequented. Biden’s decision impacted her livelihood in three separate ways: first, her gym lost approximately $3,000 in recurring monthly income with the loss of membership alone; second, a ranch her family owned suffered a “substantial loss” due to the rise in energy and fuel costs; and third, she described a “heart wrenching loss” from not being able to see her newfound friends again, many of whom were pipeline workers forced to leave the town after being fired.
“The devastation was so evident,” Burns commented. “Not just loss of their jobs but a bleak future of the trade they worked so hard for.
“We cried many tears as the pipeline workers came in to say goodbye to cancel their memberships, not knowing what their next move was but knowing Philip was no longer home” she added.
Terry Cunha, a spokesperson for TC Energy Corp., told The Epoch Times in January that “as a result of the presidential permit being revoked for Keystone XL, 1,000 unionized jobs will be lost in the coming weeks.” Cunha did not respond when asked for more specific details about the job cuts.
Burns said her first reaction to Biden signing the executive order that cancelled the project on Jan. 20 was “disbelief followed by anger.” Then the sadness started to set in. Within 20 minutes of the president’s signature, workers had started cancelling their memberships.
Although she feels blessed to live in a community that supports its local businesses, Burns said the concern for their future is “very real.” This anxiety and fear has become almost a daily topic and sentiment among her family, friends, and community as she explained how the growth in rural agriculture-based towns like Philip is very minimal.
Many towns are fading away, Burns stressed, as she described the Keystone XL Pipeline as an opportunity they will likely never see again in their lives.
“I truly couldn’t believe that an executive order could be signed—one that would impact our entire nation—with little to no hesitation, in my opinion,” she noted.
Her indignation is shared by many in the local community.