Gov. Heineman Urges President Obama to Deny Pipeline Permit

By: Associated Press & 10/11 News Email
By: Associated Press & 10/11 News Email

Governor Dave Heineman says he's not against the pipeline.

But he did send a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking them to deny a permit for the pipeline. The decision to approve the pipeline, is up to the federal government.

But after talking to and hearing from concerned Nebraskans about the pipeline, Governor Heineman decided he need to take a stand.

The Ogallala aquifer covers more than 3/4 of Nebraska and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would run right through it.

Gov. Heineman says, "There's been a growing concern for this pipeline."

That concern, a spill or leak would contaminate the water.

The governor says, "We've got to protect the Ogallala aquifer, that's what's at stake here, our water supply."

But Transcanada says a spill or leak would not threaten the aquifer.

Jeff Rauh is a spokesperson for Transcanada. He tells 10/11, "The aquifer is safe, and it makes sense because it's really structured like a filter, of sand filter, layers of sand, gravel and layers of silt that allows water to pass through, but does not allow oil to move."

The State Department issued a third report last week, which said the 1700 mile pipeline would have minimal environmental impact.

But Governor Heineman feels otherwise, "They called it limited impact. When you potentially contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer, it's going to be a big impact. Nebraskans understand that, we expect the federal government to exercise a little common sense here. Again, lets force a change in the route. "

The governor wants the State Department to deny the current permit, making Transcanada come up with a new route. But the company says after all of the studies and permits, that's unlikely to happen.

Rauh says, "There have been three years of detailed analysis, including a review of the particulars of this route, that review has concluded that this route makes sense

The governor said Wednesday that he's not opposed to the pipeline, but he opposes the route for the Keystone XL pipeline because it crosses the aquifer, which supplies drinking and irrigation water to parts of Nebraska and several states.

TransCanada's proposed pipeline project is designed to carry oil from Canada across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma on its way to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.

Calgary-based TransCanada submitted its Keystone XL project for State Department review in late 2008.

The State Department has authority over the pipeline because it crosses an international boundary.

A state senator says Gov. Dave Heineman's opposition to an oil pipeline route -- but not the pipeline itself -- reflects the opinions of most Nebraskans.

The senator, Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, is among those calling for a special session to address the pipeline route.

Jane Kleeb is executive director of Bold Nebraska, which opposes the project. She hailed the governor's letter as a sign of growing opposition to the pipeline. It would carry Canadian oil south to Texas' Gulf Coast refineries.

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