Nebraskan Politics Interview: Bold Nebraska on TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline

Nebraskan Politics Interview:
Ben Gotschall for Bold Nebraska
Part Two

NP: One argument in favor of the pipeline has been the number of jobs that would be created. There are a number of statistics available that vary greatly. Which does your organization believe is the most accurate and why? Please break down by permanent and temporary jobs, if possible. “Permanent” is defined here as those lasting for the lifetime of the pipeline. How do any of these jobs break down into jobs for Nebraskans?

BG: A great resource is the article at this link:

NP: Statistics also vary widely for leaks and accidents. Which do you believe are the most accurate and why?

BG: I don’t believe any of the statistics are accurate.  I believe there are far more leaks than are reported because leak detection systems fail and/or the pipeline companies don’t report the leaks that occur unless they are major.

NP: What do you think clean up costs could be if there was an accident?

BG: Millions, up to billions of dollars and untold environmental and human health costs.

NP: Does the proposed fund by TransCanada cover it? If not, why?

BG: No. How do you clean up an entire ecosystem? The Kalamazoo watershed has been destroyed by a pipeline spill.  It will never be the same.  What is the value of land, water, and health?  It’s priceless.

NP: What do you think are the likeliest and the most dangerous places for leaks or accidents?

BG: anywhere the pipeline crosses a river or stream.

NP: Several arguments have been made that any leaks will be easy to locate.

-Since oil rises to the top, a leak will be easy to spot.
-Increased use of automated systems will help a leak be detected early.
-The change of pressure in the pipeline by 1% is sufficient to spot a leak.

How do you respond to these statements?

BG: Results from the BP gulf spill and the Kalamazoo spill show that oil doesn’t always rise to the top.  A significant amount of oil, especially tarsands oil, sinks, creating much difficulty in cleanup.  Automated systems fail, and 1% of 800,000 barrels is 8,000 barrels of oil that could be leaking undetected–not a risk worth taking in my opinion.

NP: What do you think about TransCanada’s record?

BG: They are dishonest bullies that have misled landowners and the public in an attempt to shove this pipeline through with little to no regulation.

NP: If a pipeline such as the proposed Keystone XL had to be built anywhere, do you think TransCanada is the right company for the job?

BG: No.

NP: What are your opinions of how TransCanada has used eminent domain?

BG: They have abused their powers and have misled landowners, and I think that constitutes fraud.

NP: Do you believe that all landowners have been/will be fairly compensated? If not, please cite some examples.

BG: No.  Some landowners who fought hard and had good legal representation were able to get concessions in their contracts that other landowners did not get.

NP: If a pipeline had to be built or was decided to be built, what do you think the best route is?

BG: Along the existing pipeline corridor.

NP: What do you believe is the current status of the pipeline and the proposed route through both the Sand Hills and the Ogalala Aquifer?

BG: They have not determined a route yet, so it’s still uncertain.

NP: Why are the Sand Hills important?

BG: They are the largest vegetated sand dune area in the western hemisphere. They are a unique, fragile ecosystem that supports many endangered and native species.  They are beautiful, rare, and worthy of protection.

NP: Why is the Ogalala Aquifer important?

BG: It’s the last and largest source of fresh groundwater in this country and in the world.

NP: What is different about this pipeline from other pipelines?

BG: It’s bigger, longer, operated at higher capacity and pressure, and the contents is  more dangerous.

NP: Please reply to these arguments that I have heard made in favor of the pipeline. If you have any numbers that support how much oil the US will receive and how much will hit the international market or a break down of how much could go to which country, please add them.

-The US needs this oil and this is why we need the pipeline.
-Contributing factors to the need for this oil are the loss of Venezuelan oil and the need to reduce consumption of oil from countries that are not perceived as being friendly to the US.
-Oil shipped over seas is diesel and the US consumes more gasoline than diesel, so it is not important that some oil hits the international market. This is simply oil the US would not be using.

BG: The Keystone XL is an export pipeline.  The U.S. would use more diesel if it weren’t so expensive. Part of the reason it’s expensive is because it’s being exported.  This hurts our agricultural economy and hinders our ability to produce food.

The final installment will be tomorrow.