Earlier this week, at the request of Senators Dubas and Sullivan, our state senate held a hearing on the TransCanada pipelines.  We will post a full summary of the hearing over the weekend, but wanted to include one of the testimonies that was submitted (see below) to the committee.  Only two people spoke in support of the pipeline–a representative from TransCanada and a representative from a union.  All of the citizens and landowners who testified were either opposed or had major concerns and questions about safety, impact on Sandhills, long-term affect on the Ogalalla Aquifer and legal rights of landowners.

Today, the Farmers Union will hold the first-ever “debate” between TransCanada and a group that is opposed to the pipeline, in this case Plains Justice.  They will each have 20 minutes to make their case and then take questions from the audience.  The public is welcome.  You can read more details here.

Dear Senators,

Thank you for having a hearing on the Keystone Pipeline.  I’m sorry that I can not be there in person today to present my testimony myself.

As a Nance County Supervisor I have many concerns about the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project crossing not only our county and state but the entire US.

Keystone representatives have attended three of our supervisor meetings to try and sell us all the good things that our county will benefit from this proposed pipeline running through our county.  As for economic benefits, which always seems to be first and foremost in decision making and seems to be their (Keystone’s) biggest seller, has really a short term limit of local value.

Benefits to land owners, businesses such as cafes and motels and a few construction jobs will be short lived.  Even property taxes for the county will run out in the short term but the risk to all of our citizens will actually increase throughout the life of this project.

At every Nance county meeting they attended I asked if they had an abandonment  plan. They do not have one.  They said they don’t need one because there will always be a use for this pipeline which they projected its use to be around thirty years.  Whether it is thirty, forty or even a hundred years, eventually someone has to deal with the cleanup.

I have been on our farm for 60 years.  We have dug up steel water lines on our farm that have been replaced because of corrosion, leakage and malfunction.  No one can tell me that the pipe in this project will last forever.  Forever is a long time.

If allowed to pass through our state, I would hope that our state as well as our federal government will demand an abandonment plan and a super fund that will cover all costs in case of spills and the removal of the pipeline and complete restoration of the land used. Pipeline easements need to have an ending contract date.  Landowners need an out sometime.

They say they want to help the United States become independent of foreign countries for their oil.  I believe big oil wants their oil refined in the gulf so they can have a world market for their product.  It’s really not about supplying cheap oil to the US afterall.

As a tenant of some land that the pipeline crosses, I believe that we could be held responsible for possible damages to the pipeline.  As long as the pipeline runs under our land and we may be liable for damages if they occur, then landowners should be entitled to some sort of rent or benefits from that use running on, above or below our land.

Citizens and property owners of our state need to be protected from corporations of this size. We all know that if a problem arises, and they will, a citizen of our land will not have any leverage to take on a corporation of the magnitude.  The cheap oil promise is nearly over, please don’t sell your people out because of it.

Thank you again for this hearing and listening to the pros and cons of this lifetime decision.

-Jim Knopik