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Eminent domain, exports and land use were among the many topics directed toward TransCanada on Tuesday as a representative answered questions at the Neligh Public Library.
Jeff Rauh, a contractor with TransCanada, took questions and answers during the Neligh Chamber of Commerce Lunch and Learn.
The Neligh Chamber hosts Q&A sessions each quarter to allow businesses the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns and learn more about various topics. Tuesday was the third Lunch & Learn from the Chamber, which are open to the public but require an RSVP. Lunch is provided to those attending. Chamber members eat for free while non-members pay $5.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is slated to go through Antelope County, and Neligh has garnered national and international attention due to some opposition of the pipeline. Last September, Willie Nelson and Neil Young performed at the Art and Helen Tanderup farm north of Neligh for the “Harvest The Hope” concert.
During the meeting, Rauh was asked about the use of eminent domain for private gain. He said other infrastructure systems do use eminent domain, including privately owned railroads.
“Why as a society to do we say that’s an appropriate use? Because we think it’s necessary to get those goods and services delivered or moved around the nation. The same is true for every mile of pipeline in Nebraska,” he said. “We work hard not to use it."
Rauh said eminent domain is not used to acquire land and would not make TransCanada a landowner. He said the only land they would own would be where the pump stations are.
Another question was would that change how the land could be used after a pipeline is in use.
“The easement allows for the land to be continued to be used for crop production or as ranch land; however, there are certain activities that are prohibited. For instance, if you wanted to build an empowerment of water over the pipeline, you can’t do that. If you’re going to build a large structure over the pipeline, you can’t do that without our permission,” Rauh said.
Windbreaks can be affected, he said, and landowners are compensated for that. They’re also reimbursed if the cropland doesn’t produced as expected.
How does this pipeline compare to the was constructed in Stanton County in 2009?
“The only difference is this pipeline will also move U.S. oil. It will move crude oil from the Bakken as well. It’s also higher capacity, but from what’s inside of it, the only difference is the fact that this one will also have U.S. Bakken oil,” he said.
North Dakota is the second-highest producer of crude oil in the U.S., Rauh said.
If the pipeline leads to the gulf coast, is this oil for export?
“The reason it leads to this area is that 50 percent of the U.S. refining infrastructure exists from about Houston to New Oreans,” he said. “Traditionally that heavy crude that they’ve been refining has come from Venezuela and from Mexico. Both of those sources are being withdrawn from the U.S. market."