Antelope County Board: No Action Taken on Pipeline Regulations
LuAnn Schindler, The Norfolk Daily News
NELIGH, Neb., July 16, 2013 ó "Weíre starting from scratch."
These words from Antelope County Zoning Board member Mark Smith kicked off a two-hour public hearing Monday night here regarding proposed pipeline regulations.
About 90 individuals with vested interests along the route of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline crammed into the county courthouse meeting room, offering options for language to be included in proposed regulations that could eventually be presented to the Antelope County supervisors.
Art Tanderup of Neligh, who owns land along the proposed route, said his concerns, if the route is approved, are to save the stateís water supply and protect citizens.
He said setbacks of at least 2,500 feet from domestic wells, irrigation and other wells, residences and businesses should be put in place by Antelope County.
"If it leaks ó and it will ó oil will get into the aquifer and it will be virtually impossible to clean up. My livelihood will be gone," Tanderup said.
Bob Wood of Orchard said the original literature he received from TransCanada ó the company seeking to build and operate the pipeline ó acknowledged that the pipeline will leak. On his property, the proposed route cuts through wetlands, across a road and under a creek.
"I urge you to adopt the same regulations as Holt County," Wood said.
Holt County recently took action in response to concerns by landowners.
The pipeline crosses four quarters of land southwest of Tilden that have been in Ken Dittrichís family for more than 60 years. Dittrich said he fears the pressure placed on the pipe from the diluted bitumen would be too much, causing concern about potential leaks on his property.
Dittrich also questioned why the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District hasnít taken a more active role in protecting the land and water along the route.
"Itís my livelihood," Dittrich said. "What are you going to do?"
Dennis Schueth, general manager of the NRD, said it is in opposition of the pipeline, but the NRD does not have the authority to regulate pipelines.
"We did what we were supposed to do. Our letter is on record," Schueth said.
Schueth said the county could set up monitoring systems and work with Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to determine what samples are taken, the distance to be monitored, and how often the samples would be taken.
"Itís costly, though," Schueth said.
KXL project manager Jeff Rauh said Antelope County has been part of the route since early 2012.
"This attempt to have counties step with regulations is an 11th-hour attempt to get a last-minute decision about the route," Rauh said.
He said the environmental impact study that has been done documents minimal impact on the areaís land and water.
Rauh said he knows this is an area where emotions run high, but concerns should be documented.
"I know youíve been given legal advice," Rauh told board members, "but I have information that goes against what youíve been told."
The pipeline will cross farmland owned by Richard Stelling of Orchard. He told board members that heís talked with several insurance companies about insuring his property if the route is approved and none of the companies will cover land with an oil pipeline.
"I donít want them on my property. Letís try to keep it out of Antelope County," Stelling said.
Several landowners from Polk and York counties addressed the board, too. County supervisors in those counties are also in the process of considering regulations restricting pipelines.
Kevin Graves of York said the zoning board should not focus only on TransCanada or the Keystone XL project. Instead, language should cover crude oil of any type.
"Part of your job is to reduce the economic burden of the county," Graves said.
He said the zoning board should also consider language of road usage permits and potential damage to bridges along county roads.
No action was taken following the hearing. Zoning administrator Char Carpenter did not know when the board would meet again to discuss any possible action.
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