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Answering the State Dept's Call

Nebraskans answered the call from the US State Department to give comments on what should be studied in the new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Nationally, almost 500,000 comments were submitted. Locally, landowners, citizens and experts weighed in with questions, concerns and recommendations ranging from studying the whole route since the Nebraska DEQ is only studying the “re-route” half of the pipeline through our state to new concerns around drought conditions. Major questions about the chemicals/diluents added to tarsands as well as issues of climate were the focus of many comments. 

You can read the formal letters from national and state groups as well as excerpts from some of the comments submitted by Nebraskans below.

Bold wants to thank every person who took the time to sit down and write to the State Department. We understand TransCanada’s front-groups—like Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence—are using robocalls to get one liner comments in to the State Department and the DEQ. The hallow words like “build the thing already” will never carry the weight and valid concerns we share and that were submitted by Nebraskans across our state.

TransCanada has money, we have the truth.

The Keystone XL is not in our national interest. Home-grown energy that is safe for our communities is in our national interest. Our land, water and air deserve more than TransCanada’s risky export pipeline.

Action
You can still submit comments to both the US State Department and the Nebraska DEQ.

Send comments to US State Department: email keystonecomments@state.gov, please also cc info@boldnebraska.org

Send comments to Nebraska DEQ: fill out their web form https://ecmp.nebraska.gov/deq-seis/

Letters Submitted to State Department

National and state group letter submitted to the US State Department
The extensive document submitted touches on everything from drought, to climate, to water to wildlife. Bold Nebraska signed on to this letter giving feedback on the Nebraska section.

Nebraska letter submitted to the US State Department
Ken Winston, with Nebraska Sierra Club, took the lead in writing the joint letter submitted by landowners and nonprofit groups. Bold was proud to sign on to this letter and hope the State Department considers the unique aspects of our state’s soil and water.

TransCanada tarsands pipeline undermines US National Security
This report was submitted to the US State Department along with the letter from national and state groups to reinforce this basic fact—“TransCanada’s Keystone XL would skip over refineries and U.S. consumers in the Midwest, allowing tar sands producers to send Canadian crude to Gulf Coast refineries located in tax-free Foreign Trade Zones. From those refineries, tar sands would then be sold to international buyers—at a higher profit to Big Oil.”

TransCanada tarsands pipeline will raise oil prices in Midwest
Midwestern refineries produce more gasoline per barrel than refineries
in any other region in the United States. That gasoline is 
then sold to U.S. consumers. In contrast, refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas produce as much diesel as possible, much of which is exported internationally. By taking oil from midwestern gasoline refineries to Gulf Coast diesel refineries, Keystone XL will decrease the amount of gasoline available to American consumers. This report breaks down this critical fact…the Keystone XL pipeline will increase the price that gasoline producing refineries in the Midwest pay
for crude oil. TransCanada, the company sponsoring the pipeline, pitched the pipeline to Canadian regulators as a way of increasing the price of crude in the United States.

Landowners and Citizens Comments Submitted
We included below some of the thoughtful letters submitted by Nebraskans.

In the Central City public meeting my family was informed that the NDEQ is unaware of whether or not they will obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet for the contents INSIDE the pipeline. I would like you to explain to me how an Environmental Impact Study can be conducted without this pertinent information. –Kim Harris

Use a map that looks at soil structure and water table depth that is created by an expert third party; including distance to drinking water.  Location of food producing land should also be considered. We should not be risking our water, food supply, land and climate for a foreign company to profit off an inefficient, dirty form of energy.  The best in interest of our country lies in dealing with extreme weather incidents, drought, fires and other emergency situations being created by climate change in sustainable ways. – Lori Tatreau

While I strongly support energy efficiency as the first step, and development of clean energy sources as the path ahead for our economy, I fully understand that we will continue to be trapped using fossil fuels for the short-term future. This is very largely because of the previously invested costs for infrastructure to explore, develop, transport, refine, distribute, and consume these very limited resources. An investment of additional billions of dollars for an additional fossil fuel pipeline to enhance tar sands production will provide very strong economic incentives toward continued use, and even expansion of one of the dirtiest energy sources humans have ever considered. –Eric Williams

The State Department must conduct a full review of the Keystone XL Pipeline that takes into account its significant impact on our climate. If it does so, it will be clear that Keystone XL is not in our national interest. To the contrary it is a serious threat to our nation and the world. – Jo Riecker-Karl

It is important for the U.S. Department of State to consider extending the time for comments and concerns regarding the oil pipeline. Nebraskans are currently in a devastating drought. We have been extremely busy with fighting fire and other farming and ranching work to keep our land and livestock alive. –Jessica Preston

Of equal concern is getting the DOS to conduct an independent and full route review since previous conclusions were made while a serious conflict of interest existed. We cannot rely on previous input from Cardno-Entrix a contracting firm with ties to TransCanada’s economic interests. These ties create serious concerns of corruption that could seriously undermine a partial review by the DOS. –Britton and Barbara Bailey

I strongly recommend that your department develop a map that shows the proximity of the pipeline to families’ and municipalities’ main sources of drinking water.  The proximity of the pipeline to drinking water is a critical element in determining its risk, as is the availability of testing for water and wells near the pipeline corridor.  As the drought and fires in Nebraska have clearly demonstrated, the most valuable asset to life and our agricultural economy in this state is our precious Ogallala aquifer.  To not study a pipeline’s impact on that would be ignoring the most glaring need of citizens in our state: to protect our water for future generations. –Ben Gotschall

With all the research I have done, and now with the facts coming forth from the bitumen spill near the Kalamazoo River, I believe that a pipeline rupture in this area would spell disaster for a portion of Nebraska’s economy, not to mention destroying the generational livelihoods of many ranchers and farmers.   Let me reiterate:  When Department of State considers approving/disapproving the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, please either, 1.  Make your own physical evaluation of all the lands that will be crossed by the pipeline, or 2.  Use a current map that shows the soil type, AND depth to groundwater. – Blythe Dillon

The Seward County League of Women Voters in Nebraska played an important role in educating the public about the first TransCanada Pipeline project that now runs through the county; unfortunately right over the City of Seward well fields. After extensive study and public forums where both sides of the issue were discussed, the Seward League decided to oppose that project because of further environmental and safe water concerns. –Ellen Beck

As the DOS begins planning how it will study the new Keystone XL route, I hope that the department will include the impacts of climate change in its study. The extreme weather this year has made it more than clear to many Americans that we can no longer deny that climate change is real. Climate change has heightened severe droughts through the Midwest, including states the pipeline will run through like Nebraska. It would be a disgrace and a disservice to future generations if DOS did not include the long-term effects of mining and burning tar sands on the climate. –Malinda Frevert

I recently had the pleasure of watching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declare the United States’ commitment to fighting climate change to an audience in Sweden. The occasion was the announcement of a global coalition devoted to reducing “short-lived climate pollutants,” and while to occasion was focused on these pollutants (methane, black carbon, and HFCs), Secretary Clinton acknowledged that “we must also aggressively reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which we know remain the principal contributor to climate change and last in the atmosphere for generations.” Secretary Clinton praised the “bold actions” of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark on this front to fight climate change, and she pointed out that the United States is making headway in the fight against climate change, specifically noting the Obama Administration’s new fuel efficiency standards. The United States is now in a position where a decision the State Department makes will reflect on our nation’s true commitment to fighting climate change. In the State Department’s previous SEIS on the Keystone XL pipeline, the climate analysis focused on whether or not the tar sands would be developed regardless of the approval/denial of Keystone XL. But this framing of the climate analysis component leaves out the fundamental connection between the building of Keystone XL and the growth of carbon dioxide emissions from the tar sands, and in turn the effect those emissions have on climate change.  In fact, building Keystone XL will nullify the achievements of the Obama Administration’s new fuel efficiency standards in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and would have the same effect as continuously driving 6.2 million cars on the road for 50 years. These direct effects that building Keystone XL will have on the climate must be taken into account when analyzing whether to approve or deny the pipeline. –Chelsea Johnson

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BOLD Nebraska
208 S. Burlington Ave., Ste 103, Box 325, Hastings, NE 68901