Proposed pipeline legislation could prevent construction

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By Michael Wunder, News Editor

Three proposed bills calling for further regulation of financial constraints on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would hamper or prevent the project, said Jim Krause, operations manager for TransCanada.  Krause made his remarks during testimony opposing the legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

“Simply put,” Krause said, “we want to get the Keystone pipeline up [and] working for America.”

Legislative bills 340, 578 and 629 could prevent or delay construction of a pipeline able to supply Americans with local energy sources, Krause said.

Krause’s testimony occurred well after 5 p.m., as proponents testifying for the bill made their cases before the Natural Resources committee for nearly 2 hours.

Proponents, mostly landowners whose property resides in the pipeline’s proposed path, argued the potential of a crude oil leak and its pursuant damage to the land and water of western Nebraska offset the potential gains of the system.

“My pride and joy are four little grandchildren,” Landowner Teri Taylor said. “I keep thinking maybe this pipeline won’t cause my husband and I a major problem, but I’ve got three grandchildren that will someday make that their home, and I would hate to have that be their legacy — that someday that pipeline causes a devastating effect on the ranch.”

The Keystone XL pipeline expansion would run from Alberta, Canada to Nederland, Texas. During its 1,661-mile stretch, the pipeline would travel beneath the Sand Hills of western Nebraska, directly over the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 85 percent of Nebraskans.

The pipeline has the capacity to transport up to 590,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil per day.

Keystone oil would reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil by 40 percent, Krause said.  “This will stabilize energy costs and reduce expensive price hikes at the pump.”

Landowners, however, are concerned lower energy costs may not be a fair tradeoff for placing their land in harm’s way if an improperly regulated pipeline results in an oil spill.

The proposed bills would require TransCanada to provide for repayment in the event of accidents, as well as payment for reclamation of the pipe if the project is abandoned.

State Sen. Anne Dubas of Fullerton, who introduced LB340, also called for more regulatory oversight within Nebraska.

“I continue to hear criticism of why there are no agencies to represent our interest,” Dubas said.  The senator’s bill aims to hold all pipelines accountable for their operations and would put them in the crosshairs of the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

“We believe that the federal review of this pipeline need not be repeated by the state of Nebraska,” Krause said.  “Existing laws that govern the safe operation of hundreds of thousands of miles of crude oil and other linking pipelines in the U.S. and thousands of miles in Nebraska are adequate.”

But for the many supporters at the hearing, and many more who sent e-mails and letters from throughout Nebraska, adequate may not be enough.

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