Senator Mike Johanns —- Look At Other Pipe Routes

Johanns: Look at other pipe routes. U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns called on federal officials Thursday to explain why a proposed crude-oil pipeline cannot bypass the porous soils of the Nebraska Sand Hills and the heart of the Ogallala Aquifer. Advertising Johanns said in an interview he could not support the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline until federal regulators and the pipeline operator, TransCanada Inc., answer that question. The aquifer provides 78 percent of the state’s drinking water and 83 percent of the groundwater used for irrigation. Additional costs should not be an issue, Johanns said, suggesting the pipeline might be safer if it were re-routed alongside an existing pipeline in eastern Nebraska, rather than through the Sand Hills. “I don’t believe we have any responsibility to compromise on safety of the aquifer due to a cost differential,” said Johanns, a Nebraska Republican. “If there is a cost issue, show me the analysis. Then we can make an intelligent decision.” TransCanada Inc. considered several alternate routes, a spokesman said, including one that would parallel the existing Keystone pipeline, which extends from near Vermillion, S.D., to Steele City, Neb. But Robert Jones, a vice president of the company, said the existing route was chosen as “preferred” because it was the shortest path between the tar-sand region of Alberta and a pipeline terminal near Steele City, which is on the Kansas border. “You’re looking at a routing that impacts the fewest landowners and has the fewest river and road crossings,” Jones said. “You need less energy and less operating costs. That translates into benefits for the public in terms of lower costs.” Johanns has sent a letter about his concerns to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter comes as environmental groups have ratcheted up their criticism of the project and after TransCanada launched a publicity campaign billing the Keystone XL as the safest pipeline ever in the state. The 36-inch pipeline is designed to carry 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from western Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. It would roughly double Canada’s capacity to ship tar-sand oil to the United States. TransCanada began operating the 30-inch Keystone pipeline earlier this year, but the Keystone XL project has generated much more opposition because it crosses the Sand Hills and partly because of publicity about recent oil spills, including the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Gov. Dave Heineman, who has previously said the pipeline is federally regulated and the state has little to say about it, weighed in on the project this week. In a letter Tuesday to Clinton, he stated that he shared Nebraskans’ concerns that a “safe route” be chosen to protect the state’s water supply. U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who has raised questions about the pipeline, said Thursday that Johanns’ concerns “are exactly the kinds of issues that we need and expect the State of Nebraska to give guidance on.” The State Department is reviewing the project because it crosses an international border. The review was extended this past summer after the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that a draftenvironmental impact statement was incomplete. The EPA said the statement did not consider that extracting oil from tar sands generates about 82 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil. Besides determining if the pipeline is safe, Clinton must also judge if it is in the national interest. That process will likely extend into next year. Nationally, 50 members of Congress — none from Nebraska — have called for rejecting the Keystone XL project, as have environmental groups that say the nation should focus on ending its dependance on oil. TransCanada, meanwhile, said the new pipeline will ensure a reliable flow of oil from an ally. The company also says the chances of a significant spill are remote. Johanns, in his letter, said that while he agrees that it’s wise to obtain oil from an ally, he was “disturbed” and “troubled” that there has been “no substantial discussion” of rerouting the Keystone XL pipeline to avoid the Sand Hills and the aquifer. Following the existing Keystone pipeline, he said, would be the shortest route from the U.S. border to Steele City and would appear to have less environmental impact and “be better for the environment.” “If you have a more environmentally responsible approach by going another route, why wouldn’t you do it?” he said in an interview. Jones, the TransCanada official, said the company has experience in operating pipelines through areas with groundwater aquifers and other environmentally sensitive areas. He suggested that the senator may not fully understand all the reviews and regulations affecting the project. “This is the most responsible way to run the pipeline, and we can design it so it’s safe,” he said. Officials with two Nebraska environmental groups, BOLD Nebraska and the Sierra Club, said they appreciated that Johanns was raising questions they have been asking. Ken Winston of the Sierra Club said he believes federal regulations preclude a pipeline from sensitive areas like the Sand Hills. Jane Kleeb of BOLD Nebraska also suggested that Johanns should be critical of Heineman and the state for not having adequate regulations concerning pipeline safety. Johanns disagreed, saying the pipeline is a federally regulated project. ((14 OCT 2010))

http://www.omaha.com/article/20101014/NEWS01/710149791/0

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https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/nebraska-senator-why-can%E2%80%99t-pipeline-bypass-ogallala-aquifer/

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https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/hundreds-of-concerned-citizens-protest-poison-tar-sands-oil-pipeline/

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https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/secretary-of-state-hillary-clinton-intends-to-approve-keystone-xl-pipeline-next-year/

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