The deadline is almost here, but there is still time to weigh in and let Secretary of State Clinton know that the Keystone XL pipeline is not good for Nebraska.  As someone who grew up on a ranch in the Sandhills, I need you to stand with us and folks like Randy.

You can join almost 2,000 Nebraskans by signing this petition to Sec. Clinton, the petition will be sent to her on June 6th.

You can also comment to Sec. Clinton (deadline June 6th, midnight) directly to the State Department

We thank State Senators Haar, Fulton, Coash, Dubas and Sullivan for sending a comprehensive letter to Sec. Clinton asking her to give them until May 2012 before she makes a decision on the pipeline so as a state we can put common sense safeguards in place. You can read the full letter by the state senators here.

Right now, Nebraska is way behind other states when it comes to oil pipeline regulations and safeguards.  We have none on the books and only one bill that passed the Unicameral this session that requires TransCanada to replant vegetation they disturb during construction.  The bill shows just how far behind we are in safeguards.

Ben Gotschall, fellow advocate, rancher

 Some specific things that we can join with other Nebraskans in asking Sec. Clinton for:

  • Extending the public comment period to 120 days and scheduling public citizen hearings in states along the proposed pipeline route.  This will allow more time for a more democratic process to take place in which more citizens can participate, as opposed to the hurry-up politics and rushed decision-making that Rep. Terry recklessly signed onto. 
  • Delaying the State Department decision until May 2012.  The Nebraska Legislature needs more time to establish standards and guidelines for dealing with special concerns and circumstances caused by having an oil pipeline in our state.  Asking for a delay in the decision gives them—and us—time to take measures to protect our rights as landowners and to keep our water supply safe.
  • Thoroughly researching alternative routes to the Sandhills/Ogallala aquifer crossing.  The SEIS merely pays lip service to the very serious dangers of disturbing the Sandhills and possible contamination of the Ogallala aquifer.  More time and research are needed to fully address the concerns voiced by many Nebraskans on this critical subject, and the multiple, viable alternative routes need to be studied fully, not merely disregarded because they are not the shortest path.

And, last, but not least:

  • Denying the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline! Among the many reasons why this pipeline is bad for Nebraskans and Americans:

o   The oil is not guaranteed for U.S. consumption.  It will be sold on the world market to the highest bidder and is not destined to displace foreign oil.

o   Tarsands oil will compete with cleaner alternative energy sources such as wind power and biofuels, which would create more long-term jobs and cause less pollution.

We have until Midnight, Monday, June 6th to take action and let our voices be heard!  Don’t wait until it’s too late! 

Full Letter from NE State Senators to Sec. Clinton, sent May 25th, 2011

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We are writing in our capacity as Nebraska State Senators to request that the US Department of State delay its decision regarding the proposed Keystone XL pipeline until after the end of the 2012 Legislative session in May 2012. We request this extra time so that the Nebraska Legislature can take action on issues vital to the interests of the State of Nebraska and the United States.

The State of Nebraska is home to twin jewels – the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer. As the largest aquifer in the United States with a saturated depth of more than 1000 feet in many parts of the Sand Hills, the Ogallala Aquifer has an immense strategic value to the United States; this value will only increase as world populations increase and the world’s demand for food increases. The Sand Hills are ancient sand dunes and therefore one of the most fragile environments in the United States. TransCanada plans to run its proposed pipeline through a part of the Sand Hills where the Ogallala Aquifer is both deepest and closest to the surface, and most vulnerable to contamination.

In stark contrast to the mature federal regulatory scheme for natural gas pipelines, federal regulation for oil pipelines is thus far inadequate. This has created widespread uncertainty among members of the Nebraska Legislature regarding Nebraska’s rights and responsibilities in the complex arena of pipeline regulation as we have wrestled with the Keystone pipeline over the past year.

The 2011 Legislature did pass an important law dealing with reclamation; however, many significant issues remain:

  • Siting/Routing. We now understand, after much confusion and obfuscation, that States have the primary responsibility over siting and routing pipelines. We agree with United States Senator Mike Johanns that TransCanada should pursue a route that avoids the Sand Hills.
  • Eminent Domain.  TransCanada has threatened Nebraska landowners with eminent domain even though they have not been granted a permit to operate this pipeline in the United States.  We are concerned about the legality of this maneuver.
  • Liability. Unlike states such as South Dakota, Nebraska has not yet determined state-wide liability standards.
  • Emergency response.  It is not clear who among the various Federal and State responders has the primary responsibilities for emergency response, especially in the Sand Hills with its low population and sparse transportation infrastructure.
  • Permitting and oversight.  Although legislation was introduced to give the Nebraska Public Service Commission oversight and permitting authority for oil pipelines, more time is needed to work with Nebraska State Agencies to develop standards and procedures.

With new awareness, information and commitment, the Legislature will be studying and introducing legislation in the 2012 Legislative session to address and protect the interests vital to the State of Nebraska and the United States as listed above.

We respectfully ask you to give the State of Nebraska this additional opportunity to enact state legislation to protect our land, our water and our children’s future. 

Signed by Nebraska State Senators Haar, Fulton, Coash, Dubas and Sullivan (real champions, solid elected officials)