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TransCanada to Move Pipeline

November 15, 2011

Like in a great psycho killer movie, just when you think Keystone XL is dead, it roars back to life.  Well, maybe.  The Omaha World-Herald reports that TransCanada has promised the Nebraska legislature – currently in special session to debate risks associated with the proposed Keystone XL route – that Keystone XL will be moved out of the ecologically fragile Sandhills.  The World-Herald’s story, however, seems to buy into TransCanada’s current line that concerns about the Sandhills are only about shallow groundwater and virtually equates the Sandhills with the Ogallala aquifer.  The aquifer is much larger than the Sandhills, and the risks are different (see Saturday’s post about the analysis submitted by Plains Justice and allies to the State Department).

The Sandhills are highly erosive and, as the largest and most intact wetland ecosystem in the U.S., offer unique wildlife habitat.  The Sandhills are also important to recharge of the Ogallala.  Moving Keystone XL out of the Sandhills is certainly a good first step, as part of a full package of binding commitments by TransCanada to follow through on all the shiny happy promises it’s been making lately.  Getting a solid pipeline siting law on the books in Nebraska will be more important progress, and that means including abandonment provisions that put responsibility squarely where it should be: on the people who built the pipeline in the first place.

But TransCanada’s announcements lately have the sound of desperation.  Maybe they’ll be able to follow through, maybe they won’t.  Get it in writing backed up with financial guarantees, Nebraska.  Landowners, watch your backs.  And let’s spare a thought for Nebraska’s attorney general, who is diligently refusing to step up and defend his state’s sovereignty.  Well played, Bruning.  What was it Teddy Roosevelt said about “those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”?  It wasn’t complimentary, I remember that much.

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