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EIS: Nebraska Can Change Pipeline Route, Heineman Refuses

The US State Department’s release of a flawed Environmental Impact Statement does not mean a final decision has been made on the risky Keystone XL tar sands pipeline–there is still a long way to go before it can be built.

In the executive summary of the EIS, the State Department makes it crystal clear that the state of Nebraska is the ONLY one responsible for the pipeline route. Gov. Heineman refuses to accept this fact and Nebraskans are watching to see if he will take his responsibility seriously, or if he will let the federal government and a foreign oil company decide how our state handles high pressure, risky oil pipelines.

“Individual states have the legal authority to approve petroleum pipeline construction in their states, including selecting the routes for such pipelines. Different states have made different choices in how or whether to exercise that authority. Some states, such as Montana, have chosen to grant the authority to a state agency to approve pipeline routes through that state. Other states, such as Nebraska, have chosen not to grant any state agency such authority.” (executive summary of the EIS)

“Despite what the flawed EIS says about the impact on the environment, one thing is clear, Gov. Heineman can change the route of the pipeline. That decision is in his hands and his hands only,” said Jane Kleeb. “Heineman might want to say this is in the hands of Obama and Clinton, but if he continues that line he is essentially saying the Feds know better for our state and that will be a complete reversal of ideology for Heineman and the clearest example that TransCanada, a foreign oil company, is leading our state.”

The national interest determination process will take at least three months to complete and state regulations along the pipeline route still need to be applied. For example, in Montana the pipeline still needs state certification and in Texas water permits still need to be secured. 

Additionally, TransCanada does not have signed easements from all landowners and recently pulled out of an eminent domain lawsuit in Oklahoma, which was a victory for every family fighting to protect their land, water, and heritage.

Nebraska state senator Ken Haar is calling on the Governor for a special session so our state can take full responsibility to protect our land and water. Heineman unfortunately continues to put up roadblocks and point fingers rather than lead.

National groups and Nebraska organizations are reviewing the final environmental impact statement over the next few days. As many have already said, we hope that Secretary Clinton fulfilled her promise to “leave no stone unturned” and to do a “thorough and objective” assessment.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that the State Department is living up to its promises, and it looks like this review still fails to recognize the impact of 6.5 million gallons of tar sands oil and chemicals will have on the Ogallala Aquifer or the impact the big hauler trucks will have on small county roads and the fragile Sandhills.

Nebraskans have an opportunity to show that we are unified to ensure the pipeline does not cross the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer. We encourage everyone to attend the US State Department public meetings in late September. 

Bold Nebraska will hold a rally before the meetings; individuals can get more details at www.boldnebraska.org.

Individuals can RSVP for the State Department meetings on our Facebook page, click here to RSVP.

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