NDEQ Releases Pipeline Draft Evaluation Report
Public Hearing, Information Session to be Held in Albion Dec. 4
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has completed its Draft Evaluation Report for Keystone’s proposed Nebraska Reroute of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This report is available on NDEQ’s web site.
The agency is also announcing that a public hearing and information session will be held in Albion on Dec. 4, 2012 at the Boone County Fairgrounds.
“Input from Nebraskans has been tremendously helpful for our work so far,” said Mike Linder. “Prior to finalizing the report and submitting it to the Governor, we will carefully consider all additional comments made through the end of the hearing.”
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP (Keystone), proposes to construct, operate, and maintain an 875 mile long, 36-inch diameter crude oil pipeline from the U.S.-Canadian border to Steele City, Nebraska, referred to as the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. Keystone submitted a new proposed route on April 18, 2012. Based on public and agency input, Keystone refined the route in the Supplemental Environmental Report, which was submitted to NDEQ on Sept.5, 2012. NDEQ evaluated Keystone’s proposed refined Nebraska Reroute and has completed its Draft Evaluation Report.
Summary of Evaluation Report
The Draft Evaluation Report provides the state’s analysis, prepared by NDEQ and its contractor, HDR Engineering of Omaha.
The 600-page draft report provides findings to date regarding Keystone’s submissions. Among the findings:
Public Hearing and Information Session
- The Nebraska Reroute avoids the region that was identified as the Sand Hills by NDEQ, which is based on extensive research conducted by various state and federal agencies several years ago.
- Keystone provided some route alternatives in the Supplemental Environmental Report which reduces the amount of fragile soils that are crossed in the northern portion of Nebraska.
- The revised route also establishes greater distances from the sources of drinking water in the communities of Clarks and Western.
- The report details environmental, economic, social and other impacts along the Nebraska Reroute.
- Numerous construction and operational mitigation measures would be incorporated to protect groundwater and surface water.
- Keystone would pay for an independent public employee to act as a liaison to facilitate the exchange of information between Keystone and landowners, local communities, and residents.
- Keystone would provide baseline water well testing for domestic and livestock water wells within 300 feet of the center line of the route.
- Keystone would adhere to 57 special pipeline safety conditions that had been previously agreed upon with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
- Keystone would be responsible for developing an Emergency Response Plan for a product release associated with the operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline and ancillary facilities.
- Keystone has identified several variations of crude oil that would be transported at various times through the pipeline from Alberta, Canada and from the Bakken Formation in Montana and North Dakota. The report contains the general characteristics of the crude oil, which are similar to other crude oils from around the world. In the event of a spill, the appropriate authorities would have immediate access to the product’s Material Safety Data Sheet.
- In addition to complying with all relevant state and federal cleanup requirements, Keystone will provide evidence that it is carrying $200 million in third party liability insurance to cover cleanup costs for incidents in Nebraska.
The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2012 in the Event Center at the Boone County Fairgrounds, 2616 Fairgrounds Road, Albion. This is a formal public hearing to obtain testimony or comment regarding the state’s Draft Evaluation Report and Keystone’s Nebraska Reroute. To ensure all testifiers have the opportunity to speak, the hearing officer may set time limits on testimony. Those with more extensive comments are urged to submit them in writing, so all of their comments can be reviewed and considered by the agency.
The hearing will be preceded by an information session from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Casey’s Building at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The information session will be an opportunity for the public to meet and talk with those from the agency involved in the review, in an informal “open house” format.
Viewing Report and Submitting Comments
To view a copy of the draft Environmental Report, go to NDEQ’s new web site at http://deq.ne.gov/ and click on the link to the pipeline project review page, located at: https://ecmp.nebraska.gov/deq-seis/
Public comments will continue to be accepted through Dec. 4, 2012. Comments may be submitted electronically at the pipeline web site, or submitted via e-mail to NDEQ.SEISpubliccomment@Nebraska.gov. Written comments can be mailed to: NDEQ Pipeline Project Comments, P.O. Box 98922, Lincoln, NE 68509-8922. Written comments can also be submitted at the information session on Dec. 4, 2012. Written testimony can be provided at the public hearing.