Keystone XL owner files eminent domain proceedings for Nebraska land

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Democrats plan amendments to require Keystone be built with U.S. steel, use oil domestically.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, filed eminent domain proceedings against 90 Nebraska landowners Tuesday to gain access to the final acreage needed to build the controversial project. “Eminent domain is a last resort and our first priority is always to negotiate voluntary agreements with landowners,” TransCanada’s Keystone projects land manager Andrew Craig said in a written statement. “We have made numerous offers to negotiate generous agreements with landowners,” he said. “We have waited as long as we could under state law before beginning the process – as we said we would.” TransCanada’s eminent domain filings are the latest step in a years-long war over the pipeline, which can’t go forward without President Obama’s go-ahead. When Republicans first began pushing the project in earnest, Keystone was billed as a way to lower gas prices, but with prices at the pump already having dropped, and the project itself unrelated to gas costs, the argument has faded. The other selling point was the vast number of jobs Keystone would allegedly create, but an independent State Department study found that the project would create about 35 permanent, full-time American jobs – roughly what we’d see from “opening a new Denny’s franchise.” There would be far more temporary jobs associated with Keystone, but they’d come and go fairly quickly.

According to [the American Petroleum Institute], the pipeline is just like the Mona Lisa: “One of the world’s most recognized works of art was created by a painter who made his living on temporary jobs.” Connecting Keystone to the da Vinci masterpiece, API Vice President Linda Rozett specifically said temporary jobs can be “awesome.” Soon after, the Institute’s exec tweeted a promotional image comparing Keystone to the Sistine Chapel – because both were “temporary” jobs. Republicans have made circumventing President Barack Obama’s review of the Keystone project, by forcing its approval, their first major legislative effort since taking control of both the House and Senate. Opponents have sued to try to prevent the Calgary, Alberta-based company from using eminent domain and to overturn the state pipeline-siting law that allowed ex-Gov. I’ve seen evidence, which I can neither share nor identify, that Keystone would create hundreds of billions of jobs, and if you disagree, your beholden to radical leftists.” News organizations, reluctant to take sides, would feel compelled to tell the public, “There is disagreement over how many jobs the pipeline will create. The pipeline would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines headed for Gulf Coast refineries.

The total would be between 35 and ‘hundreds of billions.’” API, to its credit, is taking a more reality-based approach, conceding that the underlying facts are accurate, while at the same time making the case that temporary jobs are “awesome.” Does the industry group have a point? Company officials say they still need to acquire 12 per cent of the total land easements from Nebraska landowners who have not yet reached a deal with the company. Supporters don’t have enough votes to override an expected veto from Obama, who objects to Congress trying to circumvent his administration’s review. For opponents of the pipeline, the case is simple: Keystone intends to transport oil, extracted from tar sands, through environmentally sensitive areas.

Landowners will match TransCanada’s lawsuits in local courts and continue to take our fight to the one person who can put an end to all of this: President Obama,” said Jane Kleeb, executive director of pipeline opposition group Bold Nebraska. The impact on the economy and the energy sector can charitably be described as “negligible.” Yes, thousands would temporarily work to put the pipeline in the ground, but policymakers could create far more temp jobs by investing in American infrastructure – highways, bridges, rail, runways, seaports, etc. – without the environmental hazards associated with tar sands, potential leaks, and damage to wildlife habitats and wetlands. President Barack Obama has downplayed the project’s benefits, and the White House has publicly threatened to veto legislation in Congress that would fast-track the project.

Those still willing to negotiate mostly have concerns about compensation and restoration of native grasslands that could take three to five years to regrow, Craig said.

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