Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Two seemingly like-minded Nebraskans square off over threat of Keystone XL to water supply

A dispute has erupted in Nebraska between two previous allies -- environmentally outspoken and traditional Democratic activist Jane Kleeb and water expert and all-around green guy James Goecke. The public fight is over Keystone XL, the already much disputed 1,700-mile steel pipeline that would carry heavy, low-quality crude from Canada’s oil sands to refineries in Texas. At issue, writes Washington Post reporter Steven Mufson, is whether the pipeline would pose a threat to the massive Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground sources of fresh water which sits firmly under Nebraska and likely holds enough water to cover the country’s 48 contiguous states two feet deep.

TransCanada, the pipeline's owner, plans to bury the pipeline at least four feet underground, and in many places could be putting it in the aquifer. Kleeb says that if the pipeline should spring a leak where it touches the aquifer or even above it, oil could quickly seep into and through the porous, sandy soil, contaminating the aquifer. Goecke disputes that. A hydrogeologist and professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska, Goecke has been measuring water tables in Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region since 1970. He says opposition to the pipeline is driven by misunderstanding of how the aquifer works. “I’ve spent my career drilling holes to and through the Ogallala Formation. I’ve probably seen as much of the Ogallala as anybody,” he says in a TV commercial for TransCanada. “There’s a misconception that if the aquifer is contaminated, the entire water supply of Nebraska is going to be endangered, and that’s absolutely false. If people recognize the science of the situation, I think that should allay a lot of the fears.” (Read more)

1 comment:

Kewball said...

He'd appear much smarter and less of a shill if he'd ditch the strawman argument "There's a misconception..." and focus on, you know, actual *science*.

As it stands now, his score is +1 for science, +1 for sell-out, so I'm still pretty darn skeptical of what comes out of his piehole.