October 3, 2011
Cattle Ranchers, Environmentalists, and the Keystone XL Pipeline
There is an interesting article in The Economist regarding the proposal to bring the Keystone XL oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to Texas. The new pipeline will cross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma on its way to Port Arthur, but apparently it is the Cornhuskers who are raising the biggest stink. The main reason is concern about potential contamination of the Ogallala aquifer:
"Many Nebraskans are worried that a leak from the pipeline might pollute the Ogallala aquifer, a vast underground reservoir that stretches from South Dakota to Texas and provides Nebraska with almost all its tap water and irrigation. The aquifer rises especially close to the surface in the Sand Hills region in the north of the state, near Mrs Luebbe’s ranch. The water table is so high, explains one of her neighbours, that if you drive a piece of piping three or four feet into the ground, water clean enough to drink will start gushing out."
The article doesn't explain how TransCanada will acquire the rights to bring the pipeline through the United States, but I presume that eminent domain will be involved. That's interesting, since apparently the pipeline so unpopular in Nebraska that even the state's Republican governor has written to Hillary Clinton, asking her to refuse the required permits unless TransCanada modifies the pipeline's route.
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