Updated, 10/19, 11:45am: Speaker Flood sent a letter to Gov. Heineman today stating we do not have the constitutional authority to change the pipeline route and therefore do not need a special session. Our only question, when is tee time? It is crystal clear Flood, Heineman, and the others would rather be golfing than working.
TransCanada attempted, yet again, to act above the law today in their response to Nebraskans’ valid concerns about the risks of a tarsands pipeline to our land and water. We do not need memos from a oil company; what we need are laws on the books regulating oil pipelines so they cannot act above the law.
TransCanada can not have it both ways–either than have the safest pipelines ever built or they have to add a bunch of measures to make them safe. Which is it?
The lead person responsible for ensuring we have the proper state-based regulations in place is Governor Heineman.
Speaker Flood and other state senators, as well as Attorney General Bruning, all have a role. However, as the saying goes, the buck stops with one person and one person only. In our state, that is Governor Heineman.
We respectfully ask Governor Heineman to call a special session immediately to set regulations that other states have had on the books since the 1970s–like eminent domain protection, chain of command for local emergency response, road repair funding and how pipeline routes are defined and certified in our state.
TransCanada will try to say, “It’s too late to change the route.” They will also say, “If you change the route, it will cost us too much money.”
It is not too late. It is not our job to fix TransCanada’s and our State Department’s poor and inadequate planning process. It is Governor Heineman’s responsibility and duty to protect our land and water.
Since TransCanada is willing to “go the extra mile” for Nebraska, what about all the other states–are the citizens in other states and in other towns in Nebraska for that matter not important enough to get these “extra safeguards?”
Specifically, here are a few points to respond to TransCanada’s smoke and mirrors letter (to read their full letter, click here):
1) $100 million bond: TransCanada is already required to pay up to $350 million in clean up fees under federal law. The tarsands oil spill in Michigan 14 months ago is already at $700 million. If TransCanada was serious about putting in place a meaningful bond, it would be closer to $1 billion.
2) Testing water wells: Federal and state regulations do not protect water wells on a families’ land. Many families in the Sandhills have private water wells for their drinking water and water for their cattle and other farming operations. How long will they test? Who will conduct the tests? Will the results be made public? How will they provide an “alternative source of drinking water” to 100 head of cattle?
3) Putting concrete around the pipe: TransCanada said it will put concrete around the pipe in certain areas. They already told the State Department they would do this process. However, the bigger question is if you think your pipe is not safe and therefore you need a concrete seal around it, doesn’t that raise a whole series of other questions? Recently a whistleblower said in DC that the concrete can be mixed wrong and weather conditions can diminish any impact of concrete and even make it worse in some scenarios.
Nebraska is an ag state. We are not an oil state. We have clean water. We do not have any oil pipelines that cross the Sandhills. TransCanada’s risky proposal and their recent smoke and mirrors are not solutions to the very real problems we are facing.
Governor Heineman must act now. No more excuses. He must protect our land and water. Heineman must defend our state.
2. You can also call Governor Heineman, and tell him to call a special session now. His phone number is 402-471-2244, twitter @Gov_Heineman
3. Take a look at our action page for more ideas on how you can be a pipeline fighter and a Sandhills lover.