One of the more contentious issues in the past year for America's environmentalists was the (successful) blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline over fears that it would contaminate the Ohallala aquifier in the Sandhill region of Nebraska, a major source of groundwater, and an issue over which none other than the president was quite vocal just about a year ago when he killed the idea. At least that was the pre-spun, socially accepted reason (for the real one read below). It is now time to revisit the fate of this critical pipeline following today's news that the Nebraska governor has approved a new route for the pipeline, one which avoids the most sensitive area in the Sandhills. The response from the opponents has not been late in coming: "Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska. And now it will be up to Obama, whose second inauguration speech had a dedicated segment to clean energy, to kill or let it go through. Since the decision will once again be about politics, the outcome is all but certain, but at least it will provide yet another theatrical sideshow to add to all the others emanating from DC these days. After all it is all about distraction.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Tuesday that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
Heineman sent a letter to President Barack Obama confirming that he would allow the controversial, Canada-to-Texas pipeline to proceed through his state.
The project has faced some of its strongest resistance in Nebraska from a coalition of landowners and environmental groups who say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply.
Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada and some workers' unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs.
The original route would have run the pipeline through a region of erodible, grass-covered sand dunes. The new route skirts that area, although the pipeline's most vocal critics remain firmly opposed to it as well.
"Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska.
Heineman said previously that he would oppose any pipeline route through the Sandhills region. In his letter to Obama, he said the new 195-mile route through Nebraska avoids the Sandhills but would still cross part of the aquifer. Heineman said any spills would be localized, and the clean-up responsibilities would fall to TransCanada.
The governor said the project would result in $418.1 million in economic benefits for the state and $16.5 million in taxes from the pipeline construction materials.
And for those wondering why we are confident the answer this time, like a year ago, will be a resounding no, here is a repost from precisely one year ago:
Obama Puppetmaster Warren Buffett Biggest Winner From Keystone Pipeline Rejection
Just when one thinks American crony capitalism couldn't hit new lows, here comes Warren Buffett and his personal puppet, the president, proving everyone wrong once more. Because if one thinks there is no (s)quid pro quo for all that "sage" advice that Buffett has been giving to Obama on extracting as much wealth as possible from future wealthy Americans (before they decide they have had enough with this crony shit and leave the country for good), one would be fatally wrong. As it turns out, it is not just natural resources and aquifer purity that Obama had in mind when sealing the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. No - it appears there were far more relevant numerial metrics that determined Obama's decisions. Such as the bottom line number of Buffett's Burlington Northern, which according to Bloomberg, is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. '“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul." And quite delighted to reap the windfalls of unfounded populist fears she forgot to add. Because while the whole "carbon-credit" multi-trillion top line expansion scheme for Goldman under the pretense of actually caring for the environment may have collapsed, it is not preventing others from trying and succeeding where even Goldman has failed.