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Adrian Smith’s district to host final Keystone XL public hearing

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Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 12:00 am

I hope I can keep my propensity to use four letter words to a minimum, because right now I am mad.

I just finished reading an Omaha World-Herald article about Adrian Smith and his ill-conceived views on the Keystone XL pipeline.

First let me tell you that the proposed route of the DilBit pipeline cuts a path right through Adrian’s Third Congressional District. Any Nebraska leaks from this pipeline will happen on his constituents’ soil and into his constituents’ water. Most of the Nebraskans opposed to this foreign pipeline are his constituents, to whom he has lent his deaf ear.

The article states, “Smith told The World-Herald last week that he has been impressed with what he's heard about the environmental safeguards that come with the Keystone XL pipeline.” Can you believe that! Adrian has been consistently saying he would base his determination on science, but now says “what he hears” is good enough.

I am guessing what he hears is mostly from TransCanada, the foreign company that wants to slice Nebraska wide open to transport Canadian tar-sand oil, complete with toxins that kill, to the Gulf of Mexico so it can be refined and exported. If Smith was truly listening, he could hear the hundreds of Third District landowners who are desperate to have their congressman help save the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer forever.

Adrian also says, “We know that we want to protect a tremendous natural resource, that being the aquifer and water in general, and we can do that with a good amount of technology.” Or, Mr. Congressman, you could stand with the courage of your constituents and demand they avoid the Sandhills and aquifer all together.

I think what upsets me more than what was written in the OWH article, was the stuff not written.

Surely the reporter knew Adrian Smith voted for the new Pipeline Safety Bill that was signed into law early in 2012. That bill requires two federal studies directly aimed at the tar-sand DilBit oil. One studies the corrosiveness of DilBit to see how it affects the pipe.

The other studies the leak detection practices of pipeline companies. Both must be followed by a review period and regulatory process that won’t be done for a couple years, yet Smith wants to bury the pipe now. I wouldn’t call that basing his decision on science, would you?

Surely the reporter knew that Adrian sits on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. This committee, back in 1980, declared tar-sand to be neither oil nor petroleum, so when an “anonymous company” recently asked the IRS to make a ruling on tax liabilities based on current law, the IRS had no choice but to rule the 36 million gallons of this toxic brew, gushing just a half inch away from Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer every day, will not be subject to the eight cents per barrel Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Tax.

(American oil has to pay this tax, but the Canadian tar-sand oil gets a free pass, thanks to Adrian’s House Ways and Means Committee determination.)

Adrian has been informed that a spill in Nebraska similar to the one in Michigan could cost up to a billion dollars to repair and restore, and TransCanada is only liable for the first $350 million. After that, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is tapped, but remember, based on Adrian’s committee, the Canadian oil going through the Keystone XL does not have to pay the $23 million a year tax to replenish the fund … only American oil has to pay.

We have asked Adrian to change that provision. He is reluctant to do so, saying he might have to get the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy involved. All right then Mr. Smith, as one well known Nebraskan might say, “Git-er-done!”

We don’t need more ‘timid’ from you on this issue.

March into the next House Ways and Means Committee meeting and say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a problem. I am not about to sit around and let this dangerous oil pass though the nation’s largest fresh water aquifer and cross all of Nebraska’s major waterways without contributions to the Oil Spill Fund. That’s not right and everyone in this room knows it.”

That’s what a leader would do and it’s what we desperately need from you!

But the chances of that happening are about as likely as the chance the pipe won’t leak - slim to none. Instead, Adrian says about the pipeline opponents, “… some people simply don't want to add any more fossil fuels to the nation's energy supply.”

That may be true. Some people don’t. But if you, Adrian, had been listening to Nebraskans instead of Canadians, you would have heard loud and clear the issue in your home state of Nebraska has never been about oil. Had you been listening, you would have known all along it is about water.

Well, now Congressman Adrian Smith, you have your chance. On April 18, the State Department will conduct the last hearing in the United States of America on the Keystone XL pipeline. Know where it is going to be? It will be in the largest city in your Third District, Grand Island.

And since you are basing your decision on what you “hear,” then I am sure there is no way you would miss this public hearing. I mean, how could a sitting congressman not take this opportunity to hear from hundreds and hundreds of your constituents regarding not just the issue of the day, but the issue of a lifetime in our state?

For crying out loud, do your %#@& job! (I knew I couldn’t make it all the way through this column without one of those four letter words.)

One last thing, Congressman Smith, since you should be there, you might want to ask Johanns and Fischer to tag along. It is obvious they have been listening to your pipeline sources as well, and a good dose of Nebraska common sense could do the both of them some good too.

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