Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
The U-S State Department comes to Grand Island tomorrow for two public hearings on the Keystone XL oil pipeline route through Nebraska…the only hearings on the department’s draft environmental impact statement.
The sessions run from noon to 3:30 and from 4-8:00…both on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds in the Heartland Events Center. Registration to speak begins at 11 a.m
The State Department is conducting the hearing because a federal permit is required for the project since the Keystone XL would cross an international border.
President Obama is expected to make a decision late this summer, but is under heavy pressure from many in Congress to act sooner.
The original proposed route for the Keystone XL crossed the environmentally-sensitive Sandhills and triggered opposition that included a special session of the Nebraska legislature.
The result was a deal for pipeline developer TransCanada to come up with a route that avoided the Sandhills and pay for the state to do an environmental route of it.
The state analysis of the new 274-mile route through Nebraska was released in January and indicated minimal threat of widespread contamination, leading Gov. Dave Heineman to give his ok and send it on to federal officials.
The State Department followed up March 1 with the release of its own draft environmental analysis, which reached the same general conclusion.
Opponents were re-energized when a March 29 pipeline rupture sent heavy Canadian crude oil…the type Keystone XL would carry…into an Arkansas subdivision.
Opponents say a similar spill would eventually occur on the Keystone XL…which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast…and would be devastating because the oil from the tax sands is many times thicker and more corrosive than lighter crude oil traditionally shipped by pipelines.
TransCanada has pledged Keystone XL will be the safest, most technically advanced project of its kind, while the Association of Oil Pipelines says the tar sand oil was not a factor in the Arkansas spill or any other in the quarter-century that U-S pipelines have carried the heavy crude.