[Above: near Burwell, Nebraska, west of the proposed Keystone XL route.]
After its recent suspension for safety reasons, the Keystone pipeline has resumed operations. Meanwhile, both Nebraska Senators Nelson and Johanns are encouraging state legislators to take up the issue of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s planned route through the Nebraska Sandhills. The headline and first paragraphs of the news article from the World-Herald make it seem like this is Nelson’s position, but later in the article Johanns is also quoted expressing concerns about the Sandhills location and the need for the state to take up the issue itself. It seems that Gov. Heineman and others in the Legislature are waiting for national action from the State Dept. or elsewhere, but the real responsibility for addressing local safety issues before the pipeline is built will come from Nebraska itself. The state cannot afford to defer or ignore this issue.
Today Reuters published an article on the EPA’s response to the most recent State Department report on the proposed pipeline. It includes much more detail and discusses Sen. Johanns’ letter to Clinton, requesting a meeting held in the Sandhills. He says, “(State) Department officials should wade ankle-deep in the water of the aquifer and feel the soft composition of the sandhills to get an idea of what will be required to dig a trench and bury a pipeline in such a sensitive environment,” the Republican stated upon releasing his letter. “Holding a meeting 100 miles outside the sandhills won’t cut it; the State Department needs to understand the fragile nature of the proposed route and ensure affected Nebraska landowners have easy access to the meeting.”