Monday, February 25, 2013

Property rights issues abound along Keystone’s path

Bob Allpress, a farmer from the tiny Nebraska border town of Naper, isn’t dead set against the Keystone XL Pipeline, though he wishes the company behind the project, TransCanada, would take it someplace else. “We’re not 100 percent against the pipeline,” Allpress said. “If only it were sensibly located.” Allpress is just one property owner affected by the pipeline, a 36-inch oil conduit slated to run from eastern Alberta, Canada, to southern Texas oil refineries. He lives on more than 900 acres, ground he splits between crops – usually corn – and cows. The pipeline, as it snakes through the ground, will also come within about 150 yards of his home. It will also come too close, he says, to a well that provides drinking water for his family and a few neighbors. TransCanada wants to stick the pipeline right down the middle of his land, cutting the cropland and the pasture in half. The company, if it ever wins federal approval for the project, will take forever a 50-feet wide swath of land from Allpress, and an additional 60 feet span during construction to accommodate cranes, truck and digging equipment. Once the company finishes pipeline construction, Allpress will be able to use the land again, but TransCanada reserves the right to access the pipeline in emergency circumstances. For the inconvenience, TransCanada will pay Allpress, like others along the path, a set amount for the temporary and permanent easements, plus another sum for crop losses. The company has also offered to rent pasture land on behalf of ranchers with displaced livestock. As the Keystone debate, more than four years old, chugs along, the nation fixates on a classic battle of Washington, D.C., powers: Republicans vs. Democrats and environmentalists vs. business. Yet, in the Cornhusker state, the controversial project divides even deeper, splitting many residents and interested parties who would self-identify as Republicans or conservative...more

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