20 Mar 2014 More

Nebraska Landowners Await Keystone Pipeline

posted by Unknown @ 10:22 1 Comments

Image of the Keystone Pipeline
Even as a district court judge’s ruling in Nebraska has put the Keystone Pipeline on hold temporarily, most Nebraska landowners know that it is inevitably coming their way.  Ronal Weber, 69 years old and retired, is one such landowner.

Truth be told, Weber wishes the pipeline would have passed him by completely.  Planting corn and soybeans around it is not an impossibility, but it will prove challenging.  Instead, what gets under Weber’s skin most of all is the barrage of project delays, one after another.

"It's ridiculous that we haven't yet built this thing," says Weber. "It would have been nice if they had gone a mile over and missed me, but these kinds of things happen. It has to go through somewhere."

Weber is not alone.  The proposed 1100-mile trek through Nebraska for the pipeline has met with plenty of opposition.  It’s been ten years since the initial proposal, and landowners like Weber are still waiting.  Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to finally decide on the matter in the coming months.

The pipeline is coming

Despite opposition from environmental groups, afraid the pipeline will have a negative impact on the environment above and below ground, it seems to most that the pipeline is now a foregone conclusion.  While some are worried about greenhouse gases, others point to possible harm that may come to the drinking water there.

Now with the opposition all but having eroded, most landowners are ready to just get the job done and move on.  In fact, the holdout by many may now turn into a boon.  It seems that after the deal made by TransCanada, builders of the pipeline, finally residence of Nebraska are going to get their turn at cashing in on the oil boom.

While residents in Texas and North Dakota have become millionaires overnight from the shale boom, it seems the same has not been true for the people of Nebraska.  Now, if the pipeline is inevitable, as it seems to be, landowners in Nebraska may as well be compensated.  34 Nebraska lawmakers, more than a 2/3 majority, recently signed a letter in support of federal approval.  Only three lawmakers signed a similar letter opposing the project.

Jane Kleeb, director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, says that while opposition is fading, it has not faded altogether.  115 out of 515 landowners along the proposed route still are opposed to the pipeline.  But TransCanada has been very aggressive in its campaign to bring landowners to its side.  "For the last three months, it's been very stressful on the landowners," says Kleeb.

Coming to an end

Other landowners along the route are just ready for the whole thing to come to an end. 
"Up here where the pipeline's going through, the people I've talked to don't have concerns with it," says Frankie Maughan Jr.  "They just want the money."
Other states signed off on the pipeline years ago.  The pipeline would carry 830 mbopd from the oil sands of Western Canada along with 100 mbopd from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana.  Estimates show that as many as 40,000 new jobs could be created from building the pipeline.

85-year-old Joseph Grosserode says TransCanada has offered him $100,000 for his easement, even promising he could keep the money even if the project is never completed.    Other landowners have received as much as $250,000 with signing bonuses of up to $80,000.

"I think a lot of people who have signed so far, especially in the beginning, didn't know a lot about the pipeline," says Jim Carlson, a fellow Nebraska farmer. "Initially, I thought it would be good for the country, that it would reduce our independence on foreign oil. But now? They could offer me $344,000 today, and I wouldn't sign it." 

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