2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nebraska Senator stands up for Keystone XL landowners: Press Release

LINCOLN, NE, September 27, 2011 – Today, Senator Bill Avery, who could not be in attendance to present his remarks at a scheduled US State Department Hearing on the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline pending application, released this statement:

“For the record, I am not opposed to an international pipeline. I realize that there are currently hundreds of natural gas and oil pipelines across Nebraska and across the United States. I have sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Clinton indicating that while I do not oppose the pipeline or its purpose, based on our historical need for oil and gas, I have several very serious reservations about TransCanada’s operations and procedure for route approval.

I am extremely concerned about TransCanada’s questionable record of pipeline maintenance. Keystone I has already experienced 12 spills in its first year but claims no fault because those spills were at pumping stations. That’s more first-year spills than any other pipeline in US history. Keystone I was recently issued a Federal Corrective Action Order in June, 2011 by the US Department of Transportation to take necessary action to protect the public, property and the environment from potential hazards associated with two spills this summer in Sargent County, North Dakota and Doniphan County, Kansas.

There is absolutely no denying that spills will happen. Enbridge dumped over 1 Million gallons of tar sand crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, polluting and closing the waterway to fishing and swimming for 6 months. ExxonMobile spilled 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River contaminating America’s National Park waterway. The good people of Louisiana, where I attended Tulane University, will suffer for decades from the tragedy of British Petroleum’s offshore explosion. Spills can and will happen. They will poison our waterways and kill our wildlife. The Sandhills are home to the endangered Whooping and Sandhill Crane migratory bird species, the endangered American Burying Beetle, and dozens of waterfowl and wildlife. Even worse, viscous tar sands, which won’t float like light sweet crude, will sink into our porous Ogallala Aquifer, contaminate our clean water systems, and cause catastrophic and irreversible damage. If we don’t stop this now, future generations will forever wonder why we allowed this to happen.

I am opposed to TransCanada’s questionable and deceptive tactics. It’s a very serious problem when a foreign corporation can enter our state and dictate what’s going to happen on our private property. Property that has been held by generations of Nebraska family farmers. The US State Department must acknowledge that TransCanada did not have the proper permits to threaten to invoke eminent domain. It’s unethical and it’s against the law. I have a copy of the letter they have sent to landowners threatening land condemnation. The intimidation and deception of our citizens is real.

Furthermore, I am outraged that TransCanada has briefed our legislative staff, partnered with our local unions, sent the Consulate General of Canada to meet with me, sponsored our Nebraska State Fair, and implied University of Nebraska backing on Husker gamedays all while declaring to be our friend.

Friends don’t send hostile letters to innocent landowners. They don’t infiltrate our state with unsubstantiated illusions about increased jobs and decreased oil prices at a time when working families, farmers and cattle ranchers are clinging to their livelihoods and barely making ends meet. Friends don’t turn a deaf ear when a state pleads for them to shelter their drinking water from toxic crude oil and their fragile ecosystems from erosion.

Our two US Senators have said no. One US Representative has said no. Our Governor, Dave Heineman, has asked the President to deny TransCanada’s permit based on location. Our University has told TransCanada to get their advertisements out of Memorial Stadium. 30 Nebraskans peacefully protesting TransCanada’s tactics have been arrested at the White House. Our Legislature is seriously considering – and I support – a costly Special Session to protect our state from TransCanada’s refusal to hear us that our Aquifer is Nebraska’s most precious resource. They’ve threatened our landowners with eminent domain and land condemnation, invaded our airwaves and newspapers with confusing and manipulative advertising and made questionable political contributions to our lawmakers. Today, TransCanada has caused hundreds of Nebraskans to take the day off, drive across the state and show up to again voice their serious concerns.

How many more times can Nebraska tell you?  We do not want our Ogallala Aquifer and Sandhills adversely affected by TransCanada’s dirty tar sand sludge. The Final Environmental Impact Study report indicated that for 65 miles, Keystone XL Pipeline will be less than 10 feet away from the Aquifer. That simply is not acceptable. The Aquifer provides 78% of Nebraska’s clean drinking water and provides 83% of Nebraska’s total irrigation water for livestock and crops. We do not want TransCanada jeopardizing our clean water, irrigation source or the livelihood of Nebraska’s family farmers with vague and unfounded promises. We will not risk a spill on our watch.

I’ve heard the arguments about ending our dependence on foreign oil. About Canada being a friendly nation we can count on. About TransCanada being a neighbor who will invest in our communities. I understand about the need for new jobs in a time of economic instability. And quite frankly, I am not moved. I am simply not convinced that these promises can or will be guaranteed by TransCanada. Are we willing to gamble away Nebraska’s environmental future on uncertainties? On temporary labor jobs and oil that, once refined, is not earmarked for American use? On a company who has a history of deceptive trade practices and faulty equipment installation?

Given that TransCanada refuses to be a friend and acknowledge their corporate responsibility, Nebraskans will continue to be resolute in the stewardship of our environment, our land, our history and heritage for the future of our children. We are unwavering in our support for what our families have spent generations protecting and we will not back down.

There is a solution, and we all know it. Absent a good faith effort from TransCanada to voluntarily propose to Nebraska another Pipeline route, the US State Department must reject this application and TransCanada must move the Keystone XL Pipeline east. Get it off of the majority of the Ogallala Aquifer. Keep it out of our extremely fragile ecosystem. Why is it so hard for TransCanada to move the Pipeline east? To follow its existing Keystone I pipeline route? Is it because they were deceptively acquiring land ahead of their application approval and would now have to obtain new landowner easement rights? Let me remind you: TransCanada’s bottom line is not our problem.

It is incumbent upon the US State Department to reject approval of this permit and require TransCanada to reroute the Keystone XL Pipeline away from the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer. Then, and only then, will this project win our confidence and likely acquire broad support in Nebraska. The Keystone XL Pipeline may be in the national interest, but the route is absolutely not in Nebraska’s interest. As Nebraskans, we respectfully request, no, we absolutely demand, the rejection of TransCanada’s permit application.”


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