Nebraska Wildlife Federation and National
Wildlife Federation are working together with many other organizations to
educate the public about important problems with the proposed Keystone XL
pipeline, which would carry diluted tar sands bitumen from Alberta, Canada,
through Nebraska, to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas.
Tar sands oil is one of the
most carbon-intensive and environmentally damaging sources of oil, and the
pipeline could add to climate change problems and put at risk Nebraska
wetlands, rivers, wildlife and groundwater sources.
In December, 2012, Nebraska Wildlife Federation told the Nebraska Department
of Environmental Quality that its assessment of the Keystone XL proposed
re-route falls short of assessing and mitigating the potential problems for
water and wildlife.
The NDEQ published its final assessment in January, 2013.
On November 22, 2011, the Nebraska Legislature adjourned a Special Session called by Governor
Dave Heineman after enacting two new laws that deal with petroleum
LB 4 provides new authority and $2 million to the Department of
Environmental Quality to review the proposed new route of the Keystone XL
pipeline. LB 1 gives the Public Service Commission responsibility over the
route of new petroleum pipelines. Both bills were enacted after Speaker Mike
Flood announced an agreement under which TransCanada agreed to re-route the
proposed Keystone XL pipeline around the fragile Nebraska Sandhills.
In Washington DC...
On April 22, 2013, the comment period closed on the US State Department
draft supplemental environmental impact statement of the proposed Keystone
XL pipeline. See the Federation comments
In March, 2013, Nebraska Wildlife Federation joined National Wildlife
Federation and many others in asking the Department of Transportation to
craft new pipeline safety rules to respond to shortcomings in current rules
identified by a National Transportation Safety Board report. See the
On December 23, 2011, the House and Senate reached agreement on a payroll tax
extension bill that includes a special provision requiring that the Obama
Administration make a final decision on whether to issue the federal permit
for the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. The Obama Administration,
citing an inability to reach a decision before the environmental review was
completed under federal, rejected the TransCanada application. TransCanada
then split the pipeline project into two, moving ahead with the southern
portion (which now required no State Department review) and filing a new
application on the northern portion, still dubbed "Keystone XL".
On November 10,
2011, the State Department announced a delay in the process until early 2013
to allow it to undertake an in-depth
assessment of alternative routes in Nebraska. State Department officials said it would be very difficult for them to approve the permit without
National Wildlife Federation
president and CEO Larry Schweiger said "the Keystone XL pipeline was the
wrong project in the wrong place. You can change the route, but it is still
the wrong project at a time when we need investments in clean energy
alternatives that don't spill, don't pollute, and don't run out."
Unfortunately, Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry from Omaha sponsored
legislation that would require the State Department to expedite its
consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline permit. Given the many important issues that are still unresolved, we
believe this bill is short-sighted.
President Obama has said publicly he will be making the decision about
whether to grant a Presidential Permit to TransCanada, with recommendations
from the State Department and other agencies.
The US State Department held hearings to take public comments
on whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the USA's national interest on
September 27 in Lincoln,
and on September 29 in Atkinson, Nebraska.
Read the Nebraska Wildlife Federation letter asking the US State
Department to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, or at least to
condition its approval on a safe route through Nebraska...comment
Ask Secretary of State John Kerry to deny the permit for the
proposed Keystone XL pipeline by writing to: US Department of State, PO Box 96503-98500,
Washington, DC 20090.
US State Department took comments on its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the
proposed pipeline in August.
The State Department considered alternative routes that avoid the
Nebraska Sandhills, but said -- incorrectly, we believe -- that they would
not provide an extra measure of safety. The State Department also re-examined
the climate and energy implications of the project, concluding that tar
sands oil is indeed more carbon-intensive than most oil used in the USA.
After a Supplemental Draft Environmental
Impact Statement was issued in April (see Nebraska Wildlife Federation comments here),
we asked Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton to hold field hearings in
Nebraska and other states impacted by the pipeline.
See our letter
On July 11, Dr. John Stansbury from the
University of Nebraska released an independent analysis of the likelihood
and potential extent of a spill from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The
report concludes that a major spill would be more likely, and cause far more
damage, than the 'worst case' scenario being promoted by TransCanada, the
pipeline's builder. Read the
summary or the
For More Information...
by the Congressional Research Service confirms that states like Nebraska have the primary responsibility for siting of oil pipelines, and for protecting landowners subject to eminent
domain laws that allow the taking of private land. The US State Department
made clear their view that states have primary siting responsibility.
The Center for Energy Matters
produced a video on the pipeline and some of the Texas landowners concerned
about the pipeline, and about efforts to take their property by eminent
domain. Click here to
Nebraska Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife
Federation, Bold Nebraska, Sierra Club and others hosted a summit meeting on
the Keystone XL pipeline in July, 2010 in Lincoln.
Speakers discussed the risks of the pipeline to our environment, landowners
and Native Tribes, and we discussed what can be done. 63 people attended in
person, and another 367 watched by webcast. See a recording of the summit
The Nebraska Wildlife Federation submitted
on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, (PDF file)
and the National Wildlife Federation joined other national groups in
comments on the Draft EIS (PDF file) as well.
The Short Story:
April, 2013: NEWF comments on State Dept. environmental review
March, 2013: NWF, NEWF and others ask for tougher pipeline safety rules
December, 2012: Nebraska DEQ issues report on proposed re-route.
December, 2011: Congress passes legislation requiring a speedy decision on federal
November, 2011: TransCanada yields to pressure, agrees to re-route Keystone XL
November, 2011: Legislature passes two new petroleum pipeline Laws
has shown that, contrary to claims by the Canadian government and industry,
tar sands oil production is polluting the Athabasca River with "a highly
toxic brew of heavy metals." The study highlights just one of the dangers of
this method of oil production, and also calls into question the credibility
of those who support the project and claim it carries little risk.
magazine recently ranked Alberta tar sands oil development as one of the ten
most ecologically damaging projects on the planet. Producing a barrel of
this oil takes four tons of earth, contaminates 2-4 barrels of freshwater,
and releases three times as much global warming pollution as conventional
oil sources. Ultimately, The Guardian says "if proposed expansion
proceeds, it will result in the loss of vast tracts of boreal forest and
peat bogs of a territory the size of England."
of State took
public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
through July 2.
Over 200 people attended the
three public hearings held in Nebraska in May, at Fairbury, York, and
Atkinson. At the hearings, Nebraska Wildlife Federation joined dozens of
other Nebraskans in raising important objections to the pipeline and its
possible impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer and other groundwater, Nebraska
rivers and wetlands, the fragile Sandhills soils, remnant native prairies,
greenhouse gases and the destruction of boreal forests in Canada.
Environmental Protection Agency sent a comment letter to the State
Department, saying the State Department's analysis was inadequate.
Department of State must complete the environmental review of the project,
and once that is complete, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will then make
a decision about whether the project is in the National Interest of the USA.
petition to Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama, and Governor
Heineman on the Keystone XL pipeline