The writer is a spokesman for Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence.
You’d hear the catchphrase at the critical point in every episode of “Dragnet” — “Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”
Sgt. Joe Friday wasn’t interested in opinion; he just wanted the cold, hard facts. Makes sense for a stoic detective looking to sort out the situation.
During public deliberation on the Keystone XL pipeline, Nebraskans have endured their fair share of rhetorical hot air. At points it has even reached the level of entertaining.
After all, it is not every day a Hollywood actress best known for portraying a mermaid swims ashore to protest a pipeline. But talk to a Nebraska farmer or rancher and you find someone very concerned who just wants the facts. Some straight talk.
In an effort to make sure every question has an answer, state and federal agencies have given the Keystone XL pipeline a very thorough review.
In fact, it is the most studied pipeline in U.S. history. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s analysis was one of the most important because it came after TransCanada, the operator of the Keystone pipeline system, rerouted KXL around the Ogallala Aquifer. The gesture went a long way with the majority of the public who has answered consistently that they support pipeline construction.
The National Research Council review of the safety of diluted bitumen, which is the type of crude oil that would be sent through the line, put to rest concerns that oil would corrode the pipeline’s steel walls.
Safety is also a concern. And despite the claims of critics, it is important to keep in mind that nobody is in favor of leaks or accidents.
The construction and operation of the existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, provides an evidence-based model we can use to forecast the performance of Keystone XL. The pipeline can be operated safely.
Independent experts have utilized all of the credible facts, performed a rigorous analysis and arrived at the same conclusion over and over again. Repeatability is the hallmark of good science. The repeated analysis of the Keystone XL project has met that rigorous standard.
But then there is the hubbub. The politics. Misinformation clouding the issue, accusations, rumor, hyperbole and fear are represented as “fact.” It’s troubling that these claims are given equal standing and merit as the independent studies.
Just because you can type it into Google doesn’t mean it has the same merit as the National Research Council’s review. It is disingenuous for reporters, pundits or politicians to elevate propaganda to equal footing as objective research and analysis.
Keep this in mind. Pipelines, including some that transport crude from the Canadian oil sands today, have been constructed and operated safely across the Ogallala Aquifer and fragile ecosystems in Nebraska for more than 60 years.
The development and operation of pipelines have played a critical role in developing the economy of rural Nebraska. The current Keystone pipeline was routed, constructed and operates in an effective and respectful manner.
Using fear and misinformation to predict that the Keystone XL pipeline will perform worse is to ignore reality.