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Keystone XL Pipeline Opponents Question Proposed Path

The week-long hearing for the revived Keystone XL pipeline continues, and attorneys at the Domina Law Group who represent the landowners fighting back against the proposed project brought up the question of whether or not an alternative route could work.

While TransCanada remains favorable to the currently proposed route, constant public pressure to re-route the pipeline away from its currently proposed path and along the current Keystone pipeline. While the current route that would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, five rivers and pass within a mile of 2,649 known water wells would slightly shorten the path the oil would take through the United States, moving it would mean it would cross the Ponca Trail of Tears one less time and have less of an impact on local wildlife and waterways.

"Wouldn't it be an advantage to TransCanada to be able to put in a pipeline across a route over which it had no public opposition, and for which the public was either in agreement or indifferent?" Attorney David Domina of the Domina Law Group asked Meera Kothari, the project's lead engineer, during the second day of the hearing that will last through Friday, August 11.

"I suppose so," Kothari replied.

The landowners fighting back against the pipeline also worry about the potential impact to their farmland and livelihoods.

“Keystone does not anticipate any significant overall effect to crops and vegetation associated with heat generated by the operating pipeline. Is that correct?" asked attorney Brian Jorde of the Domina Law Group.

"That’s correct," responded TransCanada environmental regulatory expert Jon Schmidt.

"And is there a glossary where the word significant is defined anywhere in section 13?" Jorde asked.

"No,” Schmidt said.

While TransCanada says that their plan is to restore the land to its original state once their pipeline is laid four feet below the surface, Domina, Jorde and landowners questioned whether it was even possible to do that.

"The sand blows like snow, and by the time they get the pipe in the ground, we don't know where our topsoil will be unless it is protected significantly," Antelope County farmer Art Tanderup said.

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