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Below is a recap of this past week’s news and research related to TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline. Nebraska landowners filed a lawsuit about their concerns regarding eminent domain and the process under which TransCanada’s pipeline is being reviewed to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The lawsuit questions the constitutionality of Nebraska’s current pipeline siting law and calls TransCanada’s Keystone XL permit application into question.
Landowners and citizens can also now join a new legal rights group called NEAT that was formed to help create a standard Nebraska Easement, something we have been asking the Attorney General and the Unicameral to do in order to protect property rights and our water.
News & Developments:
· A new report out this week further explains that the Keystone XL pipeline will not only be ineffective in lowering gas prices, but for many in the United States, the pipeline will cause even greater pain at the pump. NRDC, Oil Change International, and ForestEthics Advocacy released “Keystone XL: A Tar Sands Pipeline to Increase Oil Prices.”
Anthony Swift, of NRDC, summarized the findings on his blog, saying “The study finds that Keystone XL is likely to both reduce the amount of gasoline produced in U.S. refineries for domestic markets and increase the cost of producing it, leading to even higher prices at the pump.
With the facts piling up, some supporters of the pipeline admit that the pipeline has nothing to do with gas prices. However, a few ardent politiciansand representatives from big oil itself are still in denial, but offer no concrete facts to support their arguments about gas prices.
· Despite recent attempts by TransCanada to toot their own horn in the press, the fact remains that tar sands oil is the dirtiest type of crude. A Congressional Research Service report released last week explains why extracting tar sands is a more intensive process and what that means for greenhouse gas emissions. Inside Climate News interviewed scientist Adam Brandt, whose own findings were used in the CRS study, about the environmental impact of Keystone XL. The article points out that scientific findings show “the project could raise U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 21 million metric tons a year—the equivalent of adding 4 million cars to the road.”
· Citizens of Nebraska filed a lawsuit, Thompson v. Heineman, in the Nebraska Supreme Court challenging the constitutional basis of LB 1161, Nebraska’s current pipeline siting law. The three landowner plaintiffs, represented by lawyer David Domina, are fighting for their rights to the land and water which provide their livelihoods as ranchers in an agricultural state.
According to a press release from Domina Law, “Critical steps and information for a transparent environmental assessment process was eliminated with LB 1161 giving Nebraska land to a foreign country though eminent domain with insufficient review or oversight.”
During a press call held by the legal team and landowners, Randy Thompson, the named plaintiff in the case, said, “I think for me the last straw was passage of LB1161 and the way it dismantled eminent domain protections for landowners in Nebraska – and the idea that a foreign corporation could actually come into the state and start condemning Nebraska properties when the same company doesn’t even have a permit to operate in our country.”
Thompson continued, "The main source of my frustration has come from the actions of our elected officials, not only in Nebraska, but in the nation."
Nebraska Governor Heineman has said that the state will proceed with the pipeline, despite the landowners’ lawsuit. If the lawsuit is successful, everything the DEQ is doing and any contracts TransCanada gets signed will most certainly be null and void. The conservative approach would be to put things on hold, but since the Governor loves the pipeline now, despite his request to Pres. Obama to deny the permit because of the risks to the Aquifer, Heineman is pushing as fast as possible for TransCanada.
Quotes of the Week:
“If the Keystone pipeline comes down through our country, which I hope it does, that will not change the price of oil. The price of oil is determined on a global basis by what the supply is and what the demand is.” - Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
"I believe very strongly in our rights as Nebraska citizens. All of us take it extremely personally when we are threatened with eminent domain." - Landowner Suz Luebbe, plaintiff in Thompson v. Heineman.
In Case You Missed It:
BP Agrees to Precedent-setting Settlement Over Whiting Refinery Pollution Permits: The controversy over air pollution permits awarded by the State of Indiana to expand BP’s refinery in Whiting has come to an end with a precedent-setting settlement that will cut emissions from the highly-polluting tar sands oil project and provide stronger air quality protections for Northwest Indiana and Chicago residents.
“The Canadian Oil Sand Mines Refused Us Access, So We Rented This Plane To See What They Were Up To” – This Business Insider article did flew over Alberta’s tar sands region to give a visual and educational perspective into the what exactly the extraction process of this dirty, unconventional crude looks like.
Bernie Sanders: Let’s End Polluter Welfare