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Response to State Dept. Environmental Report on KXL

We have compiled key information for the press and public in response to the release of the State Department's Final Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL. The most significant piece is the State Department acknowledges the proposed route STILL crosses the Sandhills and the Aquifer.

sandhills-map-FEIS-report
(State Dept. FEIS report, page 3.3-23)

It is critical to know that the majority of press (except Schor and Leach) simply got the EIS wrong. Nowhere in the EIS does it say the pipeline will not impact climate or the environment, in fact the person in charge of the report (Kerri Ann Jones) made it clear the report shows various scenarios and does not make any conclusion about the pipeline. The White House also came out and said the  “EIS has a range of estimates of the project’s climate impacts, and that information will now need to be closely evaluated by Sec Kerry and other Cabinet members. A decision on the  [permit] will be made only after careful consideration …”

We now have a 90-day comment period that starts on Feb. 5th and Sec. John Kerry is now involved with the next step in the process called the National Interest Determination report.

The EIS is a HUGE improvement from the last draft. The State Department included significant information citizens and landowners sent it and testified about at the various hearings in our state. NRDC wrote a blog on some big changes to the climate section that we hope you read.

In the coming days our team will write a detailed post explaining all the changes for our land, water and wildlife.

For now, please sign up for a Vigil we joining with CREDO and others this Monday at 5pm at various locations in our state.  There are currently plans for vigils in Lincoln, Omaha, York (at the “Build Our Energy” barn) and Atkinson, but you can also click the interactive U.S. map to find another event near you, or organize your own even if its you and your dog on your porch!

+++EIS Initial Reactions++++

Jane Kleeb is available via email jane@boldnebraska.org for questions or contact with landowners. 

Pictures: All pictures on Flickr can be downloaded and used for press outlets, please source Bold Nebraska and photographer listed.

Key Background Info and Timeline: The State Department’s next phase in the review of Keystone XL pipeline was issued today. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is one report the President receives before making his final decision on TransCanada’s permit. There is also a critical National Interest Determination (NID) process that starts today, and lasts up to 90 days for the public and 105 days for federal agencies. The NID must look at other areas than the environment to determine if this pipeline is our national interest, such as domestic energy production (more info on NID here). The State Department’s timeline can be halted if we are successful in the lawsuit against the illegal routing process for our state (more info on lawsuit here). We expect a decision on the lawsuit by the end of March 2014 and both sides are ready to appeal to Supreme Court.

Quotes:

Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska executive director:

  • Contact: 402-705-3622, jane@boldnebraska.org
  • Picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boldnebraska/9306960101/in/set-72157634677116463
  • “The State Department acknowledges there is risk to our water and Keystone XL will increase tarsands production. TransCanada is fighting for their bottom line, while farmers and ranchers are fighting for their livelihoods and the Ogallala Aquifer which at one point our Governor stood with us to protect. We are in this fight to win and are confident Pres. Obama will make the right decision and deny the permit.”

Randy Thompson, Nebraska landowner and rancher

  • Chair of All Risk, No Reward Coalition, face of the “Stand with Randy” campaign

  • Contact: 402-920-2759, randyft@windstream.net

  • I appreciate the fact that the State Department held their final hearing here in Nebraska. It is my hope that they took to heart the dramatic and overwhelming testimony they heard from Nebraska citizens on that cold day in Grand Island. Hopefully, those involved in the decision making process will realize that protecting the greatest fresh water aquifer in the western hemisphere from any unnecessary risks of contamination is a “no brainer.” Another critical part of the equation that is not included in this, or any EIS, is the issue of individual property rights of American citizens who would be unjustifiably forced to forfeit those rights for this project. An export pipeline built by a private, for profit corporation, should never be granted the power of eminent domain. If the President truly values the rights of American citizens, along with many of our nation’s most valuable natural resources, then it should be an easy ‘NO’ decision for him.” 

Jenni Harrington, Nebraska landowner in the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route

  • Hosted the “Build Our Energy” project, a wind & solar-powered barn built directly in the pipeline’s path, on her family’s land

  • Contact: 402-363-8591, jenniharrington28@gmail.com

  • “We are encouraged the State Department is finally offering a more balanced view of Keystone XL’s risks. After watching the tarsands spills in Michigan and Arkansas, we know pollution is not “localized” but rather hurts families and communities. President Obama said he wants to be able to look his grandkids in the eye and say “yes I did” do everything to leave a safer, more stable world with new sources of energy. That is my wish too and tarsands is too dirty and too risky to be part of our collective vision for our kids.”

Ken Winston, Policy Director for Nebraska Sierra Club

  • Contact: 402-212-3737, ken.winston@nebraska.sierraclub.org
  • “Keystone XL continues to fail all the tests that President Obama has said it must pass. It clearly fails the climate test that he laid out last summer, because every major climate change expert has concluded that it would significantly exacerbate climate change. It also fails the test that President Obama used when he denied the permit in 2012, because it threatens America’s greatest freshwater resource, the Ogallala Aquifer, at many points where it is close to the surface and most vulnerable. President Obama needs deny the permit in order to honor his commitments to the American people to fight climate change and protect our most valuable resources.” 


Press Call:
Today at 4:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM CT
***DIAL: 866-952-1906; PASSCODE: KEYSTONE***

What We are Looking for in the EIS: Below are collected concerns with the environmental review of Keystone XL from Bold Nebraska, Nebraska Sierra Club, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Trout Unlimited, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln scientists Dr. John Gates and Dr. Wayne Woldt. We have also posted the full transcript from the sole public hearing on the State Dept.’s Environmental Impact Statement, on April 18, 2013 in Grand Island, Nebraska, as well as all of the comments submitted by citizens through Bold Nebraska’s website to the State Dept. during the public comment period for the Draft EIS.

Bold Nebraska’s concerns with the previous Environmental Impact Statement:

  • No major study was done on a worst-case scenario spill of dilbit in the Sandhills/Ogallala aquifer.

  • No assessment done on the financial liability for landowners in the case of a spill.

  • The proposed pipeline route still crosses the aquifer.

  • There remains inadequate mapping of the Sandhills/sandy soils in the proposed route.

  • Eminent domain is being used to coerce landowners into signing easements. 

Below is the formal statement that Bold Nebraska and N.E.A.T (Nebraska Easement Action Team) — the collective of landowners refusing to sign easements over to TransCanada — submitted to the State Dept. during the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL.

Submission by Bold Nebraska and N.E.A.T. to State Dept. on Keystone XL by hefflinger

 

The Nebraska Sierra Club’s concerns with the State Dept. Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL:

  • The Sandhills and Nebraska’s water are still threatened, still vulnerable, and too valuable to be put at risk.

  • Gov. Heineman’s approval of the route in Nebraska is arbitrary and doesn’t address previous concerns that the pipeline put the aquifer at risk.

  • TransCanada violates the Nebraska democratic process by interfering with State Legislature, as evidenced by the passage of LB 1161.

  • TransCanada interferes with county boards to prevent them from passing planning and zoning ordinances to protect their resources and infrastructure from impacts of the pipeline’s construction, operation and future failures.

Below is the statement submitted by the Nebraska Sierra Club to the State Dept. during the public comment period on the Draft EIS for Keystone XL:

 

Nebraska Sierra Club Comments

 

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s concerns with the Draft EIS for Keystone XL:

  • Endangered Species Issues

    • American Burying Beetle

    • Finescale Dace & Northern Redbelly Dace

    • Interior Least Tern & Piping Plover

    • River Otter

    • Small White Lady’s Slipper and Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

    • Whooping Crane

  • Impacts at River Crossings

    • Calls for underground directional boring at river crossings to avoid erosion and exposure of a pipe during flooding

    • Calls for measures to make the pipeline more safe, with the East Verdigre Creek watershed an area of primary concern

  • Restoration of disturbed ground in natural communities

    • Calls for use of native plant species in restoring natural communities

    • Avoid the use of exotic species in plant restoration

 

Below is the NGPC’s June 15, 2012 statement on the “re-routing” of the pipeline as submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality:

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Comments on Keystone XL

 

Nebraska Trout Unlimited’s concerns with the EIS for the Keystone XL pipeline:

  • Pipeline should not be routed through the watershed of the East Branch of the Verdigre Creek

    • East Verdigre Creek Sustains Grove Lake, a major tourist attraction

    • East Verdigre Creek supplies Grove Lake Trout Rearing Station, which supplies many fisheries in the state with Rainbow Trout

 

Nebraksa Trout Unlimited position paper on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, adopted Oct. 23, 2012:

Nebraska Trout Unlimited Statement on Keystone XL Pipeline

Concerns of University of Nebraska at Lincoln scientists Dr. John Gates and Dr. Wayne Woldt with the SDEIS for Keystone XL:

  • Because lakes and streams in the Sandhills are fed almost exclusively from groundwater, a study of risks to surface water needs to be implemented.

  • More study needs to be done on the impact to the Ogallala aquifer, not reliance on studies done on other aquifers with different conditions.

  • How will spills be contained and cleaned up from the aquifer, lakes, streams and rivers contaminated by the pipeline?

 

UNL Professors Gates and Woldt Comments on Keystone XL

In April 2013, the State Dept. held the sole public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL in Grand Island, Nebraska. More than 1,000 citizens turned out early and stood outside in a blizzard for the chance to testify at a hearing that would last more than 11 hours, with pipeline opponents outnumbering supporters 12-to-1.

Below is the full transcript of testimony from the April 18, 2013 State Dept. hearing, and beneath that are the comments that citizens submitted through Bold Nebraska’s website to the State Dept., which numbered among the more than 1.2 million submitted calling on Sec. Kerry and Pres. Obama to reject the pipeline.

Note: If you testified at the hearing in Grand Island, or submitted a comment on the Bold website form, it will be in one of the documents embedded below. The public comments are also searchable here on the State Dept.’s website.

 

Transcript: U.S. State Dept. Public Hearing on Keystone XL Pipeline (1 of 2)

Transcript: U.S. State Dept. Public Hearing on Keystone XL Pipeline (2 of 2) by hefflinger

Bold Nebraska Comments on Keystone XL to State Dept.

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