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Pipeline Fight Spills into Governor’s Race

By   /   September 16, 2010  /   News  /   9 Comments

The fight over a controversial oil pipeline across Nebraska is leaking into the race for Governor.

Nebraska Watchdog has learned that Governor Dave Heineman (NE-R) is taking a hands-off approach to TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, while Democrat Mike Meister wants the pipeline put elsewhere.

Two weeks ago during an exclusive interview (see video below) with Nebraska Watchdog, Heineman was asked if he thinks the pipeline is a good idea. The Governor said it’s not on his radar. “I just haven’t focused on that issue to any great extent because it’s a federal regulatory issue. So I’ve let our congressional delegation deal with that,” said Heineman.

On Thursday, Meister told Nebraska Watchdog that Heineman’s comment is “nonsense.”

Critics have complained that plans to run the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska–one of the world’s largest underground bodies of water–would put the aquifer in jeopardy should the pipeline ever leak. TransCanada insists the pipeline is safe.

According to Meister, “It makes no sense to run it through the Ogallala Aquifer. If it leaks into the aquifer you could destroy a great portion of this state.” Meister also believes the State of Nebraska needs to be involved in regulation of the pipeline.

This Heineman-Meister dispute follows the release of two pipeline polls with two completely different conclusions.

TransCanada says its poll finds 69 percent of Nebraskans want the pipeline built while 27 percent oppose it.

According to a survey released by pipeline critic Bold Nebraska, 48 percent oppose the pipeline, 19 percent favor it, and 33 percent are undecided.

In addition Bold Nebraska weighed the pipeline’s possible political fall-out. When asked if elected officials, especially Heineman and Nebraska State Senators, should be “active and vocal” in asking questions about the pipeline the vast majority in the Bold Nebraska poll said yes. 84 percent said Nebraska’s elected officials should be very active and 57 percent said they would not vote for those officials who were not active.

Meister tells Nebraska Watchdog, TransCanada should put the Keystone XL alongside the company’s existing Nebraska pipeline. That pipeline is located further east, where it has less potential contact with the Ogallala Aquifer. 

Editor’s note: to see previous Nebraska Watchdog stories on this subject click here.

Editor’s note: to subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here

Reported by Joe Jordan, joe@nebraskawatchdog.org


Joe formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • http://www.boldnebraska.org Jane Kleeb

    Thank you Joe for continuing to do great reporting on this critical issue facing our state. Heineman is either ignorant or playing politics because the state has various roles with the pipeline.

    1) Our state laws regulate eminent domain.

    2) Our state can (and has not) develop a state-based emergency response plan for spills, fires, etc.

    3) Our state can require TransCanada to pay upfront for an infrastructure needs vs putting that on taxpayers (e.g. transmission lines).

    4) Our state can decide ahead of time where pipelines can NOT go (MT and SD did this).

    5) Our state can appoint a current office to regulate oil pipelines because right now we have NO office that regulates oil pipelines.

    So those are just 5 things the state is directly responsible for and could lead on….voters are watching as Heineman says “not it.” Will he say that when the pipe leaks?

  • Jim J. Enright

    The opposition to this pipeline,reminds me of the almost hysterical opposition to nuclear power in our nation. It’s based more on emotion than scientific facts.As a result, America is far behind some European nations in nuclear power which , of course, emits no fossil fuel waste. The pipeline issue should be resolved when all scientific studies are complete.

  • Doug

    If it isn’t of interest to the Governor why did he accept $2500 from TransCanada? As did Jon Bruning. And they received the contribution right after a bill was introduced to regulate the pipeline by Cap Dierks.

  • Left Brain

    How many people realize that there is already a TransCanada pipeline operational and running through Nebraska?

    Where was the opposition to the first pipeline?

    The first pipeline runs over parts of the Aquifer too. It doesn’t matter if the pipeline bursts over the fringe of the Aquifer or over the middle of it. Contamination is contamination.

    I don’t see why there’s all the opposition now. Maybe because there was no Bold Nebraska the first time around?

  • Jane

    The first one slipped in under the radar, but not this one. Nebraska (and the other affected states) don’t need double the trouble.

  • Will

    When thinking about the issue and the arguments, ask yourself “Que bono?”

    Pro or Con, pipe goes in or pipe goes elsewhere, only the statists win — more taxpayer-paid bureaucracy on all our backs.

  • Left Brain

    2,100 miles of pipeline just doesn’t “slip in under the radar”.

  • Lee

    Left Brain, do you mean 2,100 miles of pipeline doesn’t just “slip under the radar” of those who are making the decisions years before the pipeline is in the ground or the radar of American public? If you mean the American public, then yes, it can and did happen.

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