Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Keystone XL Route Still Likely To Attract Protests

From Inside Climate News:

"A relatively modest jog around the Sandhills"—that's how one TransCanada executive describes the Keystone XL oil pipeline's new route through Nebraska, which is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

But while the path will avoid the Nebraska Sandhills—a region of grass-covered sand dunes that overlies the critically important Ogallala aquifer--it could still pass through areas above the Ogallala, where the water supply is vulnerable to the impacts of an oil spill.


"If they're not going to be generous about the Sandhills boundary," we're going to continue to protest, she said. "TransCanada is putting in as little effort as they can. They're not taking our water and land seriously."

The problem for TransCanada is that the environmental assessment done on the pipeline was pretty thorough.  And it wasn't rocket science either.  You simply tally up how many property owners will be effected, how many streams and other sensitive areas will be crossed, and so on. The route with the fewest number of trouble spots is by definition the safest from an environmental perspective   And as I wrote previously:

...the bottom line is that the proposed route is almost certainly the best among the available alternatives. Thus any rejig simply transfers the environmental risk to some place other than Sandhills, and increases it overall. If the Obama administration can't get behind the current route, it would be even more difficult to get behind any of its major competitors. And note too that Nebraska lawmakers themselves are only talking about moves that would increase the pipe length by 30 or 40 miles, which doesn't sound like any of the possibilities considered in the EIS and which, therefore, will almost certainly not solve the problem of the pipe's crossing Nebraska's environmentally sensitive areas in the first place. 

Note that TransCanada is not even looking at a 30 or 40 mile extension anymore; they're now talking about a mere 20 miles of extra pipe.

So the only difference between the current and proposed routes will be that that TransCanada will have swapped one set of aggrieved land owners for another, probably slightly larger set.

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