Monthly Archives: April 2017


FISH MONEY (yes, fish-money) AND KEYSTONE

“The yearly value of fresh water fishing in eight states hosting Keystone pipeline oil is $4.6 billion…”
………This post is an open letter to Folks Who May Not Know Fish & Duck Power

 Dear Folks Who Don’t Know,

How can we change some pro-pipeline sentiment? Maybe we should do a cost-benefit on fish and ducks. 

The author, Penobscot River

Pipeline advocates often talk about real folks who “work with their hands for a living.” Now let’s include your guides, your tackle shop owners, your drift boat makers. And anyone who also sells you dogs, ammo, camo, blinds, rods, lures, bait, waders, or stuff to hunt or fish waters. Nature-based workers deliver billions of dollars of economic value and thousands and thousands of jobs.

In America, nature based businesses sell to and care for over 90 million people who, like you, spend money to fish, hunt, or watch wildlife. People who buy gas and lures, boats and rods, binoculars and calls. People who eat out and stay over.


To keep the conversation civil, let’s move over toward  Minnesota where $2.4 billion per year  comes into the state from angling, not counting the multiplier effect as money ripples out to other businesses—like rings in water that’s got to stay clean to deliver the money.

Add the state’s hunting value: another $700 million. All told, wildlife recreation in this state supports at least 35-40,000 jobs.


What if a chunk of that $3 billion hunting and fishing revenue disappeared for years….or longer? Imagine a tar sands pipeline leak or spill destroying just part of Minnesota’s waters. The loss spreads downriver, up the creek, into backwaters, even up to duck blinds. Imagine crippled fishing, hunting, and tourism businesses.

Most everywhere, our outdoor economy is virtually invisible. The research that documents its value has no public relations budget. The people who create nature-based jobs are usually small business owners who can’t match the lobbying power of the fossil fuel cartel and its bulldozer buddies. And they aren’t lobbying the president on exclusive golf courses either.

The Keystone Pipeline’s developers say they’ll offer about 3,700 jobs during construction (about one year) and 35-50 full time jobs after that. (Fifty jobs over 8 states that host the pipes?) And when pipes leak (they all do) and this worse-than-regular-oil seeps out to destroy thousands of jobs that endure not only for lifetimes but for generations of family businesses, how will we demand justice for a dead river of floating fish or a marsh of oil-drowned ducks?

The largest safety issue is not an insecure fossil fuel supply. It’s threats to our nature based economy.

The value of only fresh water angling in eight states hosting parts of the pipeline is $4.8 billion. For certain, the outdoor economies of Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, and downstream states are not safe.


Expect 91 major spills over the 50 year Keystone lifetime (Univ. of Nebraska research). In 2010, the largest tar sands spill in U.S. history devastated Michigan’s Kalamazoo River: 170,000 barrels of tar sands oil—price tag of over $700 million and counting. The river’s fishery was obliterated.

Wildlife recreation is a nature-based U.S. industry so vast, at $145 billion per year it could be in the top ten Fortune 500 companies.

Our national wildlife recreation revenues rival Apple. They dwarf Ford.

But Apple and Ford and the Fortune 500 have billions of dollars to lobby their survival.

Every one of us who works in or loves the outdoors (as a healthy, intact resource) is charged with its future.  And everyone that claims to speak up for the “working man” (women, too) should be charged with its future as well.

Tight lines,

Sandra Neily, Moosehead Lake, Maine

Find U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service national and state economic surveys at:

pipeline spill analysis