Pipeline Replica at Demonstration in Lincoln NE (Photo: JL Bauman)

Pipeline Replica at Demonstration in Lincoln NE (Photo: JL Bauman)

Ok, I’m back to this topic, mostly because it’s starting to heat up again here in the Great Plains.  The Nebraska legislature is about to go into special session to “discuss” siting issues regarding the TransCanada XL tar sands pipeline.  Our “governor” (and I use this term VERY loosely!) finally pulled his head out of his a…er the sand and is now convening the legislature (to presumably cover his ass).

This 36” diameter steel snake is slated to wind from the tar sand strip mines in Alberta to the refineries on the Texas coast.  TransCanada wants to put this thing right on top (and in some places into) the fragile land surface of the Nebraska SandHills.  I say fragile because the vegetative cover is very sensitive to disturbance and can take decades to fully heal from someone digging about.  So what?  Well, that’s also only several dozen (vertical) feet from the largest aquifer in North America which supplies 30% of all the irrigation water used in the U.S. (not to mention all of us here in Nebraska and a few other states who get our drinking water from it).  The pipeline (and its leaks) will only be separated from the water by those several dozen feet of very porous sands.

Anyhow, several weeks ago, there was talk of a grass roots movement of legislators who were trying to get together the 33 votes needed to force a special session that would hopefully give the state of Nebraska some say as to whether a foreign national corporation can build their enterprise any damn place that they please and use eminent domain to scrape generational land holders out of the way (apologies to my native American friends if this sounds way too familiar!).

To try and head this off, TransCanada sent a couple of their hatchet people to Nebraska and convened a semi-closed door meeting with the speaker of the legislature (Mike Flood) and a hand-full of other legislators.  They managed to convince him that a special session wasn’t necessary and that legally, Nebraska couldn’t do anything that wouldn’t get thrown out in court (blah, blah, restraint of free trade, blah, blah, blah).  Instead, they proposed to “discuss” a few concessions that were supposed to ease everyone’s fears.  These included such things as posting a $100 million clean-up bond and opening a staffed office along the proposed route, but nothing about moving the thing 60 miles or so to the east to avoid the danger zone.

Well, I have a counter proposal.

If (and when) there is a pipeline spill, all TransCanada officials (from the top down to those actually working the line) and their children, grandchildren, parents, spouses, and siblings will be REQUIRED to use water ONLY drawn from the closest 10 wells to the spill site. This includes drinking, bathing, washing, cooking and any other normal daily routine. This restriction will be in effect for a 10 year period starting with the date of the spill

If there is no risk from the pipeline, then there will be no risk to their families and they should have no objections to this minor inconvenience.  In fact, the current quality and purity of this water is much better than what you get in bottles or 5-gallon jugs!  If there is a risk, then they should share it with those who will be affected.  I know that they’ll never see my offer, and even if they did, they’d duck responding to it faster than Michele Bachmann running away from a debate with a 16 year old girl!  Oh well!

OMB

OMB

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