Environmental Dust Up in Nebraska

No one talks about Nebraska much unless they are talking about Mr. “Tax them, but not me” Buffett or the Cornhusker football team. There is a huge controversy there now.

It’s over jobs, jobs, jobs and you would think that in this economy when we are headed to a Depression, people would “get it”. But, they don’t. The fight is over a pipeline from Canada that would bring another source of oil to the US.

Environmentalists are against it at all costs. They say a spill will hurt the environment of Nebraska. I have been to Nebraska. Here is a photo of the Nebraska environment.

We ought to make an economic decision here. Look at the total amount of GDP that would happen with all the jobs that would be created from building the pipeline. On the other side of the equation, measure the cost of a typical pipeline oil spill, total up the cost to the environment and the cost to clean it up (of course, subtracting out the costs to hire the people to clean it up!) and see where the equation winds up. Even with a higher probability of an oil spill out of the pipeline, my educated guess would say the pipeline wins.

Here is another picture of Nebraska’s fragile environment.

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  • Anonymous

    I believe the main concern is that if there is an oil spill it could contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer which is one of the largest in the world and provides drinking water and irrigation for 8 states.  For the farmers in the area it provides 30% of the US ground water used for irrigation.  The pipeline should get built, but they need to make sure that if there is a spill, it will not effect the ground water.

    • And the Ogallala is how many feet under the surface of the earth? And the pipeline is above the earth? And what is the probability of a spill?

  • Anonymous

    As a Chicagoan, I say kill the pipeline to Oklahoma and send it here. Bring all that Athabasca and North Dakota oil here to be refined.  Maybe our gas prices won’t be the highest in the country anymore.

  • A few points:
    The “huge controversy” within Nebraska regarding the Keystone pipeline is not about “Jobs…” (as Ne. has a 4.1% unemployment rate I believe).  The job creation (and revenue) is mostly temporary while the actual total jobs projections for Nebraska are fuzzy and have been refuted and back-tracked upon. 

    Yes, a big concern centers around the safety of the Ogallala & Sandhills Aquifers, but includes other environmental impacts as well (i.e. pollution of air and ground, damage to agriculture, cattle, topsoil erosion, etc).
     
    Also, pipelines are not inherently above ground.  The USDS fact sheet
    can be found here:
    http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/clientsite/keystonexl.nsf?Open 

    where it demonstrates the process of laying the pipe and mentions “the pipeline would be buried deeper” in some instances.  The Ogallala aquifer is a vast yet shallow water-table, so contamination is possible.

    Perhaps the chance of a worst-case-scenario spill/rupture/leak/explosion is low and taken precautions for, but the NIMBY opponents see the risk greater than the reward (Nebraska wouldn’t be gaining (jobs/revenue) as much as other states and corporations operating the pipeline project). 

    Finally; as distasteful as your impression seems to be of Nebraska and our “fragile environment”, potential damage to the aquifers & water-tables is a legitimate concern, after all we are an agricultural center for this country if not the world.  Damage to the aquifers would harm more than just the “environment of Nebraska” and may carry consequences much greater than perhaps your equation for the “total amount of GDP that would happen” allows for.  I really have no qualms over a pipeline, it just makes be cringe that it could potentially impact the Ogallala aquifer, which is an incredibly important resource.  Just my 2-cents.

  • T Curley

    Environmental issue is cover.
    Chicago’s own Bobby Rush is open about why he is opposed from what I have heard. Dems are concerned that pipeline may line the pockets of Koch. Koch is big time donor to Republican candidates. Just like republicans tend to oppose road projects since unions benefit. Both are stupid with two O’s. What happened to looking out for Americans.