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Nebraska Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Keystone XL

December 2, 2010

It was University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists and route residents versus TransCanada VP Robert Jones at a meeting yesterday of the unicameral’s Natural Resources Committee for a study established by Legislative Resolution 435:

The purpose of this resolution is to study issues relating to oil and natural gas pipelines in the State of Nebraska and issues raised during consideration of LB 755, which was introduced in 2010. The study shall include, but not be limited to, an examination of issues relating to liability, restoration of property, and regulatory oversight.

The Associated Press story quotes Doug Cobb of Holt County asking for abandonment regulations requiring pipeline companies to remove the pipelines after their useful lifetime. Holt also called for state liability protection for landowners in case of oil spills. Cobb said:

(S)omewhere down the road, they (the pipelines) will collapse and will leave huge holes in our landscape.

Frank Shipley of Rising City called for additional safety precautions, noting:

Make no mistake — a big blowout could happen … (and) gut our country’s agriculture by stopping irrigation wells.

University of Nebraska research hydrogeologist Jim Goeke spoke about risk to the Ogallala Aquifer:

There are states that would kill for this. People are right to not want to mess this up.

According to the AP, Goeke told lawmakers that there would be a good chance of oil reaching groundwater in the event of a leak in the Sandhills.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln environmental engineer Wayne Woldt also called for more study of the proposed pipeline path, stating:

My sense is, we are not well-prepared to deal with a leak, should one occur along the pipeline.

TransCanada’s response? Jones dismissed comparisons to the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill:

It’s amazing to me how we can bridge (the Gulf) spill over to this project. That was an exploratory well in 5,000 feet of water. That hardly applies here.

TransCanada continues to insist in response to all concerns that they’re building the best, safest pipeline ever, and besides, they’re spending a lot of money. To the Nebraska Legislature, route residents and UNL’s scientists, it’s not quite that simple.

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