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Johanns' Big Stretch: Blaming the Feds for State Problems

Bold Nebraska applauds Senator Johanns for standing up and saying he cannot support the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline if it goes through current proposed route, which is right in the heart of the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer.  Johanns is asking solid questions and raising important points.

Here is the rub: Johanns is blaming the feds and Secretary Clinton for not offering up alternative routes for the proposed dangerous pipeline.  Johanns might have hurt his back leg on that blame game, because it’s the biggest stretch we have ever heard.

If Senator Johanns had sent staff (from knowledge he did not, we will stand corrected if he did) to the meetings the State Department held in Nebraska with citizens and landowners, he would know that they answered the questions in his letter months ago.  They explained during those meetings that no alternative route was on the table because Nebraska has no state regulations in place to force TransCanada to consider alternative routes.

It is the State of Nebraska’s job to advocate on behalf of the state’s interests, to enact safeguards and protections.  Governor Heineman is the one who did not submit alternative routes for TransCanada’s dangerous tar sands oil pipeline.  Heineman has not been actively asking questions and has not offered any alternatives for two simple reasons:

1)    Governor Heineman supports the pipeline and repeatedly says the pipeline is a federal not state issue.

2)    Our state has NO regulations that tell foreign companies where they can and cannot place a pipeline nor do we have any state regulations to keep our land and water safe from oil pipelines.

South Dakota and Montana do have state regulations, and they had alternative routes submitted to TransCanada, Secretary Clinton and the State Department.  Because Nebraska has no state regulations, TransCanada did what any oil business would do in a state that has no regulations on oil pipelines: they planned the shortest and most inexpensive route possible.  It doesn’t matter to them that the route happens to be right through the fragile Sandhills and resource-rich Ogallala Aquifer.

Senator Johanns should have sent his list of concerns to Governor Heineman because Heineman’s responsible for not offering up alternative routes. Johanns should also be asking Governor Heineman why the various state departments that should be weighing in on this issue, like the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality have yet to submit any officials comments to the State Department (note: the Nebraska Game and Parks department did submit comments to the State Department, from what we know they are the only Nebraska government entity to have done so).

Even better, Senator Johanns can ask Heineman why searches for “oil pipeline” under the regulations section of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality produce ZERO results.  Is it because Heineman supports the project and has directed state agencies to take a hands-off approach?  That is a good question for Senator Johanns to ask.

Senator Johanns could have also sent the letter to himself, since when he was a Cabinet Secretary with the Bush administration, the federal government granted special permits to TransCanada to use thinner pipe.

Once the final EIS statement is issued, Secretary Clinton might classify the Sandhills as “high-consequence” which would mean TransCanada could not build a pipeline there.  So essentially, the feds could save the Sandhills while Governor Heineman sits on the sidelines (boy does that sound familiar).

If you listen to TransCanada’s slick and expensive ad campaign, you might think, “Heck we have pipelines all over the place, adding one more won’t hurt anything.”  Well, Bold Nebraska is not against all pipelines, and TransCanada’s pipeline is very different for a few reasons.

First and foremost is that tar sands oil is the dirtiest form of energy anyone can produce.  The TransCanada pipeline is only about 36-inches thick with oil and chemicals being pushed through it at 1440 PSI, which is very high pressure.  It is also buried only about 3-4 feet underground. The pipeline doesn’t just carry oil — it carries toxic chemicals like mercury, so when the pipeline leaks and spills tar sands oil, there is also a chemical spill.  This is what TransCanada is proposing goes through our water supply and why we are opposed to the pipeline.

TransCanada’s pipeline is also different because they do not use American-made steel.  In fact, the current TransCanada pipeline in Nebraska ground right now might have to be dug up because of faulty steel from India.

We will keep working to stop the pipeline and if we can’t do that, we will ensure we get the pipeline re-routed.  We will then work with our state senators next January to ensure that we put some much-needed, strong state regulations in place.  State laws like an improved state eminent domain law, requiring oil companies to pay for road construction and demanding our state have an emergency response plan in place for oil spills.

This fight is about protecting our land and water.  It’s also about protecting our way of life.  We know we are not alone in our concern.  We know we are not alone in our resolute fight to stand up to a foreign company who is threatening our very way of life.  We ask Senator Johanns to pose the same questions to Governor Heineman and all of the Nebraska departments and offices that have yet to take responsibility for protecting our land, water and economic interests.

Action

Sign the petition that we will send to Gov. Heineman to help stop the pipeline.

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