Letter to the Editor

Oppose pipeline

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oppose pipeline

Dear Editor,

We, the members of Green Bellevue, oppose the construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline in Nebraska.

To protect the over $17.2 billion agricultural industry in Nebraska, clean water resources must be protected. We must ensure the health of clean drinking water for millions of people who rely on the Ogallala Aquifer in the west, and on Nebraska's rivers and groundwater wells in the eastern part of the state. According to an analysis of worst-case scenarios by John Stansbury, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Environmental/Water Resources Engineering at UNL, the number of leaks and the amount of the leaks would be greater than estimated by TransCanada. Stansbury also noted that the drinking water of the entire state, including Omaha and Lincoln could be at risk from this pipeline.

There is no pipeline material known to be safe to carry these tar sands, which are acidic and contain many toxic heavy metals including lead, mercury and arsenic. This is evident from the twelve known leaks on the existing pipeline. In addition, there is no known method to clean up spills and restore clean water. Existing pipeline monitoring equipment has proven ineffective in detecting leaks. New monitoring equipment is untested.

This pipeline project has the potential to benefit Nebraska in the short term by providing jobs. However, pipeline leaks could result in contamination of water for irrigation, livestock, and drinking, and could also lead to the loss of a great number of agricultural sector jobs in the long term. Above all, it is impossible to put a price on the lives that could be lost from drinking poisoned water, and on the enduring health risks that a spill would pose.

It should not be argued that this pipeline would contribute to our energy security. This is because once these tar sands are refined; there is no guarantee that the final product will be purchased for use by Americans.

The efforts to increase job creation would be better spent on developing alternative energies in Nebraska. These cleaner technologies would not put human lives and livelihoods at risk and would pose a much smaller risk to the environment. Therefore, Green Bellevue believes the presidential permit for this additional TransCanada pipeline should not be approved.


Don Preister,

chairman, and nine other members of Green Bellevue

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    All the reasons given to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline, by such environmental crusaders as the Nebraska Sierra Club, are identical to those cited in the 1970s in opposition to the Alaskan pipeline. All of these assertions proved untrue then, and they are just as much hyperbole now.

    Petroleum has done the most to improve the American standard of living over the last century. Considering the technological advances made by the oil industry, there is no sound reason why petroleum should not be allowed to continue its promise of reliable energy and real economic opportunity for the United States in general and Nebraska in particular.

    The Sierra Club states on its website that "This proposed route through Nebraska is guaranteed to decimate and destroy a huge amount of fragile rare habitat that is vulnerable..." Guaranteed? Their logic contends that because something might go wrong, therefore it will go wrong. Since when do we base societal decisions and infrastructure on "Murphy's Law?"

    Safety is of paramount consideration in most any endeavor, but these individuals demand assurances that exceed the bounds of reason; and, given a choice, they would bring progress to a screeching halt, in favor of a "pristine" wilderness that has never really existed anywhere on Earth -- except in the imaginations of environmentalists.

    This nation has 170,000 miles of petroleum transmission pipelines, which serve as the primary means of moving crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products to consumer markets. Pipelines are safe, efficient, and operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their Operators strive to protect these assets from corrosion, excavation damage, and other threats. They have dramatically improved pipeline safety, and substantially reduced both the number and volume of spills.

    A comparison of three-year spill averages for the periods 1999-2001 and 2007-2009 shows a 59 percent decrease in the number of spills per 1,000 miles of pipeline and a 41 percent decrease in the volume spilled per 1,000 miles of pipeline. Operator error can lead to events that put stresses on pipelines that significantly exceed design parameters, but such events are very rare and generally do not reflect a vulnerability intrinsic to the asset itself.

    According to a March 2011 summary -- Pipeline Infrastructure Management -- Managing Performance is More Important Than Age:

    "The industry and its service providers have developed better diagnostic tools, techniques and materials over time. More importantly, the industry not only developed ways to maintain the assets' performance above acceptable levels, but have even IMPROVED the performance of the older assets. ...

    "This improvement was made possible by the industry's multi-billion dollar integrity management investment [1]. Underpinned by regulation since 2001, the integrity management rules were aimed at 'high consequence areas' (high population areas, areas of unusually sensitive ecology, a drinking water supply, or a commercially navigable waterway). Pipeline segments that are classified as ones that "could affect" a high consequence area constitute about 44 percent of the hazardous liquids mileage subject to the regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. However, operators inspect and repair more segment miles than the regulations require. A recent (2010) industry survey showed that respondents, who operate 54 percent of the liquids pipeline miles subject to PHMSA regulation, had inspected nearly 90 percent of their total pipeline mileage, even though their required inspections would have covered only 56 percent."

    [1] Liquid pipeline operators representing approximately 75% of federally regulated pipeline mileage reported spending approximately $2.7 billion on pipeline integrity management activities, and approximately $600 million on integrity management related to pipeline-owned tankage, from 2004 to 2009.

    The environmentalists argue that the jobs touted by pipeline supporters "would be better utilized building wind turbines and solar panels." Neither of these two so-called renewable technologies is viable as a dependable and adequate energy source -- nor are they cost effective. Both require manufacturing processes and create on-site environments just as prone to accidents as any petroleum pipeline -- and both are certainly more intrusive upon the land.

    Moreover, these so-called "clean" technologies have considerably shorter life spans due to operational stresses and weather hazards -- and far more in-service problems that require frequent replacement or refurbishment. Thus they actually consume more energy than they produce.

    The imagined "monsters" portrayed by environmentalists as sufficient reasons to impede or end our exploration and exploitation of truly reliable energy sources are no more realistic than the silver bullets they promise will solve our present or future energy needs. These panaceas are the pipe dreams of those who have neither a grasp of energy production realities nor of economics. By yielding progress to their irrational demands, we are undermining the good so to possess the "perfect."

    Build the XL Keystone Pipeline -- because wasting time and resources to ensure a 100 percent guarantee to those who demand "perfection" may satisfy the followers of Mr. Murphy, but will do nothing to employ American workers, nor further the goal of an energy independent United States -- and failing such efforts is definitely not in the best interests of Nebraskans.

    -- Posted by Bruce Desautels on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 6:25 PM
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    Excerpt from 'Executive Summary of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline by the US State Department'


    From page ES-8:

    Spills from the Existing Keystone Oil Pipeline


    The existing Keystone Oil Pipeline System has

    experienced 14 spills since it began operation in June 2010. The spills occurred at fittings and seals at pump or valve stations and did not involve the actual pipeline.

    Twelve of the spills remained entirely within the confines of the pump and valve stations. Of those spills, 7 were 10 gallons or less, 4 were 100 gallons or less, 2 were between 400 and 500 gallons,and 1 was 21,000 gallons.

    The spill of 21,000 gallons occurred when a fitting failed at the Ludden, North Dakota pump station. As a result, PHMSA issued a Corrective Action Order, halting pipeline operation. Keystone was required to consult with PHMSA before returning the pipeline to operation. In that incident, most of the oil was contained within the pump station, but 210 gallons discharged from the pump station to adjacent land.

    The land affected was treated in place in compliance with North Dakota Department of Health land treatment guidelines.

    -- Posted by Bruce Desautels on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 9:36 PM
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