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From Nebraska, With Concern: Our Letter to Sec. Clinton

On behalf of 3,431 Nebraskans, we sent the following letter to Sec. Clinton as part of the comment period on the Supplemental Enviornmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The comment period is part of the process that Sec. Clinton and her staff undertake to determine if the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is in our nation’s interest.  The State Department announced on June 6th that they will now have field hearings in the next few months in states along the pipeline route.  Once we know the dates and locations we will post those on our site and Facebook page since that will be the next time we as citizens and landowners can have our voices and concerns heard.

For more information on tarsands oil: http://dirtyoilsands.org

For more information on the pipeline and our work in Nebraska: http://boldnebraska.org/pipeline-background-resources

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
Harry S Truman Building
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,           

You are receiving this letter on behalf of over 3,000 Nebraska landowners and citizens who ask that you deny TransCanada’s permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline.  We are opposed to the project for the basic reason that the dangers and risks are real, long-term and proven, while the benefits are speculative and short-term at best.

TransCanada’s track record of twelve spills in less than twelve months on the Keystone I pipeline shows the inherent dangers of crude oil pipelines and reveals the precarious nature of dealing with a foreign corporation that has no interest in protecting American citizens or our environment while on its quest to profit from the dirtiest fuel source in history.  Simply put, TransCanada didn’t build the first pipeline right, and the safety concerns this raises are too grave to allow approval of a second, more dangerous pipeline that will have the potential to leak even more oil into our soil and water.

These safety concerns are even more serious when considering what is at stake for Nebraskans. This pipeline would pose a threat to the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer, which are important natural treasures to the people of our state.  The State Department’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) fails to address the magnitude of devastation that building such a pipeline through the Sandhills would create.  More research is needed in order to determine a safer route for this pipeline.  The SDEIS gives no evidence of a full study of alternative routes for the pipeline, but instead seems to follow TransCanada’s recommendation that the shortest route is best.  More time needs to be spent seriously assessing the environmental damages caused by a Sandhills route, and more time needs to be spent studying viable alternative routes.

According to Appendix E of the SDEIS released by your department, there will be 1,194 wells in Nebraska within one mile of the proposed pipeline route.  That number is almost ten times the number of wells in South Dakota and significantly higher than the next-highest state, Montana, with 218 wells.  Many of these wells are for domestic and livestock use, and most of them are irrigation wells, which means that, if contaminated, the water could quickly be dispersed to the surface and contaminate crops intended for human consumption.  Because of this, we believe that the pipeline poses a danger to our national security, threatening our domestic food and water supply.

Because Nebraska is not an “oil state” we have minimal standards and safety guidelines concerning oil pipelines.  Although our state legislature has passed a minimal revegetation bill to hold pipeline companies responsible for reclamation of damaged property, Nebraskans need more time to establish standards that would protect landowners and communities from many problems involved with underground oil pipelines.  We, the citizens of Nebraska are the “second house” of our state’s unicameral legislature.  We need the time to allow the public to participate.  This is why, at the very least, we ask that you extend the public comment period to 120 days and schedule citizen hearings in communities along the pipeline route.  We also ask you to delay your decision on the pipeline permit until one year after the public comment period closes in order to allow time for completion of the 2012 Nebraska legislative session.

We believe that the events of the past year are a warning sign that more caution needs to be exercised when dealing with corporations such as TransCanada.  Again, while we strongly urge you to deny the Keystone XL pipeline permit, we also ask you to take the minimum steps of extending the public comment period, allowing public participation, and delaying the process to allow for more thorough treatment of this very important project that will have serious long-term implications for our state.  

Respectfully,
Nebraskans 
 

PS: We will submit to your staff the names and comments of the 3,431 Nebraskans who sent us their concerns.  Additionally, Nebraskans held a Citizens’ Hearing on the pipeline and you can find those videos here.

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