Monday, November 20, 2017

7 reasons Neb. Public Service Commissioner Crystal Rhoades voted "no" on Keystone XL today

Source: Vice News
At today's meeting of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the three members who ok'd TransCanada's eminent domain march through Nebraska to the BP-fouled Gulf of Mexico did not articulate a single reason for their approval of Keystone XL.
     Those members were Tim Schram of Gretna, Frank Landis of Lincoln and Rod Johnson of Sutton.
     Johnson had issued a toothless written admonition: he "sternly warned" TransCanada, according to the World-Herald, about its many promises, "including that the Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline in history, and that all farmland would be restored."
     “Nebraskans are counting on that,” he wrote, presumably with an unspoken threat that he would gum TransCanada to death if it misbehaves.
     TransCanada's recently-built Keystone 1 leaked 12-14 times in its first year depending on how you define "leak." Last week it poured 210,000 gallons of carcinogenic oil and associated solvents into a field in neighboring South Dakota.
     We use the word "oil" loosely. It's actually dilbit (diluted bitumen, or tar sands slurry) which is like liquid sandpaper on pipes. It has to be heated up to 160 degrees to flow, must be thinned by carcinogenic solvents like benzene and other stuff TransCanada won't disclose and it must be pressurized up to 1600 PSI. (Sweet crude from Saudi only needs about half that much pressure.)
     Because dilbit is technically not oil, TransCanada, nice company that it is, refuses to pay 9 cents per barrel into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
     Unlike the men, the two women on Nebraska's Public Service Commission ixnayed TransCanada's application: Mary Ridder of Callaway and Crystal Rhoades of Omaha, the personal choice of former Public Service Commissioner pitbull Anne Boyle, whom Rhodes replaced on the commission in 2014.

     Rhoades, the only PSC member to comment at today's hearing, had plenty to say before she voted no. We have transcribed her remarks below. KMTV, Omaha's CBS affiliate, put the entire Public Service Commission meeting (eight minutes!) on Youtube. Said Crystal:
I'm going to be voting no on this application for the following reasons:
     1. The route violates the due process of landowners. There are at least 40 landowners along the approved route who may not even know that their land is in this pipeline's path. Since they may not know that they are in the path of the pipeline, they may not have participated in this proceeding and may not have had an opportunity to make a case before this commission.
     2. The federal and state agencies conducted studies of the proposed route, but the route that's being approved here today is a different route, quite simply. The mainline alternative route was not the focus of that intense study.
     3. While the routes have moved off of the official map of the Sandhills, both routes, both the preferred and the mainline alternative route still run through several miles of fragile soils that have a high probability of landslide and will be difficult to restore, once they are disturbed.
     4. The mainline alternative route crosses the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska.
     5. The applicant provided insufficient evidence to substantiate any positive economic impact in Nebraska for this project. No contracts have been entered into by Keystone or TransCanada with any Nebraska Labor Union or with any contractor. There was no evidence provided that any of the jobs created by the construction of this project would be given to Nebraska residents. The short-term increases in property taxes collected will not offset the losses to the overall value of the land through which this major oil pipeline runs. Further, the limitations in the orderly development and operations of the affected land will result in a loss of land value from the limitations. The Nebraska Department of Revenue could not conclude that this project would have a positive tax impact for Nebraska.
     6. The applicant admitted that it had not spoken with the Nebraska native tribes. The applicant reported, according to DOS that they had worked with the Southern Ponca Tribe, who reside in Oklahoma, not in Nebraska.
     [7.] And finally, another utility corridor exists that could feasibly and beneficially be used for this route. The applicant did not prove that twinning or co-locating the Keystone XL pipeline with the Keystone 1 pipeline in eastern Nebraska was not feasible and beneficial. Rather, Keystone stated it was not their preference to use that corridor. The applicants did not refute the landowners' argument that using the existing Keystone 1 corridor would avoid fragile soils, reduce impacts to endangered species and avoid widespread controversy and opposition to this project.
     For those reasons, I will be voting no.

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