The DEQ has given Gov. Heineman the final pipeline route review report. If Gov. Heineman approves this route, TransCanada gets immediate eminent domain authority without having a federal permit. Also, Gov. Heineman is moving forward under the authority from a law–LB 1161–that is actively being challenged in court and where citizens won the first round against this unconstitutional process.

You can read the DEQ report here:

The questions we had on the draft report are outlined in the Citizens Review Report.

Background on lawsuit regarding LB 1161:

Quotes on Report

Governor Heineman asked President Obama to deny the pipeline permit because the route crossed the Ogallala Aquifer. We continue to stand with Gov. Heineman and his valid concerns on the risks of this pipeline route to farmers and ranchers livelihoods and our water. We look forward to the Governor denying the route since it still crosses the Aquifer and the risks to our state’s economy and identity remain at the forefront of this fight. The bottom line remains, why are we risking our water–the main source of our state’s economy–for a foreign export pipeline? -Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska

The DEQ report is a farce. Pencil whipping (creating an investigative report without leaving your desk) a map to create an avenue across the Sandhills continues in their report.  There is no physical break in the Sandhills. The route is still through the Sandhills and is still a threat to the aquifer. Our farm, established in 1886, is not in the report. It omits 5 potable water wells and 3 houses on our farm that the proposed pipeline will pass right by. The proposed pipeline route also plows right over a Bald Eagle’s nest that also isn’t in the report. Even though I contacted the DEQ several times, nobody from the DEQ ever contacted us nor inspected the route through our farm.   If this report is this flawed within two miles of the South Dakota border, the entire report is suspect. Governor Heineman, I call on you to reject this pencil whipping and get an unflawed report. -Bob Allpress, landowner in proposed route

We are extremely concerned about the Constitutionality of the LB1161 process, the way eminent domain authority is being granted, DEQ’s use of a consulting company with strong ties to TransCanada which colors its final work product, and the alternate route which continues to put the pipeline through light, porous sandy soils within a few feet of the Ogallala aquifer subject to leaching in the northern end of the route. Unfortunately, the Legislature put our landowners and natural resources at risk because of its failure to exercise its siting and routing authority in the first place that allowed TransCanada to take a siting short cut through Nebraska’s Sandhills and our Ogallala aquifer.  The initial route was not acceptable.  The alternative route may be an improvement over an unacceptable initial route, but it still goes through sandy, porous, soils a few feed from groundwater in a substantial part of the route, and still poses an unacceptable and unnecessary leaching threat to our underground water. -John Hansen, President of Nebraska Farmers Union

This report is fundamentally flawed in many areas. It begins with a premise that favors a foreign oil pipeline company over the fundamental rights of Nebraskans to own property and grow crops and livestock to feed the American people. It fails to address obvious issues such as the drought currently gripping Nebraska and much of the Midwest. And it relies on a list of promises from a pipeline company with no enforcement mechanism when we have seen numerous examples of this company reneging on promises and changing their stories to suit their purposes. Governor Heineman should stand up for the people of Nebraska and deny TransCanada’s proposed route. -Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club Policy Advocate

Questions on Report

Immediate new questions given the recent ruling on the case challenging LB 1161, the law governing the DEQ route review process, are the following:

1) Will Gov. Heineman move forward with the DEQ process knowing a judge found merit in the citizens lawsuit against LB 1161? Does Gov. Heineman think its appropriate to be moving forward under a potentially unconstitutional process?

2) Will Gov. Heineman deny this route since it still crosses the Aquifer since that was his reason for asking Pres. Obama to deny the pipeline permit?

3) Will Gov. Heineman grant TransCanada immediate eminent domain authority, as outlined in LB 1161, or will he amend the law stating TransCanada can not seize Nebraskans land until and if they get a federal permit?

4) If the citizens concerns about negative economic impacts of a spill, corrosive soil in the pipeline path, sandy soil in the pipeline path, risks to water are not properly addressed, will Gov. Heineman deny the pipeline route?

5) Will Gov. Heineman deny the pipeline route based on the very simple fact that the company who wrote the report–HDR–has a clear conflict of interest with TransCanada? And will the governor answer why his staff assisted in writing provisions of LB 1161 that ensured a non-competitive bid process was used to select HDR?

6) The final DEQ report states any spill into the Aquifer will be localized and cleaned up by TransCanada. How will it be cleaned up? How long will it take? Who defines “localized” since experts in Nebraska have stated we have no studies to tell us how a tarsands spill will effect the Aquifer? Additionally, tarsands spills in the Kalamazoo and Yellowstone rivers have shown us how difficult cleaning up tarsands and the chemicals mixed with this substance is in the real world.

From Inside Climate article, “Keystone XL Would Not Use Most Advanced Spill Protection Technology”:

Once an aquifer is contaminated, it’s virtually impossible to restore it to its pristine condition, Woldt said. The extent of damage would depend on the size of the spill and on how the dilbit moves within the aquifer.

“Some say it would pollute the Ogallala aquifer a tremendous amount. Others say it wouldn’t be a big deal. I don’t know, because I haven’t found the research that would answer this question,” Woldt said. “I think we’re all operating in a vacuum of information.”

Woldt has tried without success since June 2011 to secure funding for a study modeling the effects of dilbit on the Ogallala aquifer.

Reminder, the route still crosses the Ogallala Aquifer and still crosses the sandy soil. So, two of the major concerns of citizens and elected officials, including Gov. Heineman, Senator Johanns, Rep. Fortenberry and Speaker Flood, have simply not been addressed.

Map of TransCanada Pipeline Route Crossing Sandy Soil and Aquifer