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Keystone XL Environmental Review Fatally Flawed

July 2, 2010

The Nebraska Sand Hills

Today 13 northern plains and Native groups sent a letter asking the U.S. Department of State either to revise the pipeline’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and resubmit it to the public for review or to deny the Keystone XL pipeline’s application for a Presidential Permit.

The groups made the request after analysis of the pipeline’s DEIS revealed serious legal and technical flaws.

“The draft EIS leaves Plains residents along the whole route with serious unanswered questions about the real risk associated with the pipeline and very few enforceable protections,” said Carrie La Seur, the President and Founder of Plains Justice, a public-interest law and policy center that serves the northern plains.

Nebraska groups are particularly concerned about impacts on water resources and the Sand Hills.

“This pipeline is one of those things that is a bad deal from start to finish. It involves a huge amount of pollution in the extraction process and there are fragile ecological systems all along the way, particularly the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer. Plus, there is minimal oversight to make sure this process is done correctly,” said Ken Winston, Lobbyist for the Nebraska chapter of the Sierra Club.

“This proposed pipeline does not yet have the key safeguards in place to give it the green light. It will directly impact the Sand Hills, which biologists consider the most important biologically intact focal area within the Great Plains,” said Buffalo Bruce McIntosh, Staff Ecologist of the Western Nebraska Resources Council.

“Although the Keystone XL pipeline plans have been changed to miss the National Scenic River reach of the Niobrara River, the pipeline will still cross the Niobrara downstream and go through the Sand Hills. The threat to the Niobrara River, the Ogallala Aquifer and the Sand Hills ecosystems is both real and frightening. Pipelines do leak, and in these very sensitive areas, any leak is another major disaster,” said Mel Thornton, President of the Friends of the Niobrara.

“The Ogallala Aquifer, which is also known as the High Plains Aquifer, lies under about 174,000 square miles of parts of eight states. Two-thirds of the volume of this immense pristine Aquifer is in Nebraska. Placing an inherently dangerous high-pressure tar sands oil pipeline over and through this irreplaceable public water resource in Nebraska would be unconscionable,” said Ted Thieman, President of the Nebraska Environmental Action Coalition.“

“If there was ever a situation that justifies an abundant use of the ‘precautionary principle,’ this is it,” Thieman added.

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