Friday, December 2, 2011

Keystone XL Pipleine: Good for America. Safe for Nebraska.

As a Nebraskan, expressing my support for the Keystone XL Pipeline is probably long overdue. I guess that's because I don't have a whole lot to say. I've heard the arguments and I think it is a good project. That is all I have to say. But I don't think it is good to remain silent on the subject.

The facts of the debate are remarkably simple. The main arguments against the pipeline are environmental. The trouble is, they are all wrong. But don't just take it from me.
The following ad first ran last month and now has an accompanying television campaign. Please spread it around.

I’m a Nebraskan First. I want you to know: It is impossible for crude oil to contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer. Bill Sydow Director, Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Geological & Petroleum Engineer Hometown: Rushville, Nebraska Crude oil doesn’t sink in the soil. Unlike water, gasoline, diesel fuel or ethanol, crude oil will not “sink” to any appreciable degree in the soil. That’s because crude oil is, essentially, thick and sticky. History supports what I am saying. Since oil was discovered in Nebraska in 1939, we have drilled 20,000 wells in search of oil and gas, the majority of them right down through the Ogallala Aquifer. Yet, in producing and transporting over 500 million barrels of Nebraska crude, we have never contaminated the Aquifer with oil. Good for America. Safe for Nebraska. TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Visit Bill Sydow has received no consideration from TransCanada. The opinions expressed are his own.

What the ad states is basically what the EPA environmental impact study found before the project was approved. In other words, opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Another argument against the pipeline is that its construction will damage the "environmentally sensitive" Nebraska Sandhills. Forget for a moment that a similar argument was made against the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and let me tell you something about the Sandhills every Nebraska gradeschooler knows. While the terrain of virtually the entire Midwest has changed drastically over the last 200 years--grasslands to forests, dust-bowls to farmland, muddy riverbanks to bustling cities--the Sandhills remain virtually unchanged since Conestoga wagons first cut a trail through them. The Sandhills are basically the less-scenic southern end of the South Dakota Badlands, and nothing is hurting those.

Let me tell you something else that every Nebraskan knows. The notion that the locals are wary of this pipeline cutting across our state is way overblown. That message is coming almost entirely from a single source called BOLD Nebraska, a branch of ProgressNow. They aren't even primarily an environmental group.

Actually, it's hard for a liberal environmentalist to gain much traction in Nebraska. We invented Arbor Day almost 100 years before Earth Day came about and are proud of it. "New Urbanism" is a topic of serious consideration in our large cities and is permeating popular sentiment (I think it is pretty neat). Hunters and ranchers do more to protect the environment than any activist could ever hope to. Frankly, the pipeline is about the only issue they've got.

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