Monday, May 21, 2018
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No need for special session Wightman thinks pipeline route decision can wait

Sen. John Wightman said Friday he’s not a strong advocate for a special session to deal with a proposed pipeline route through the Sandhills.

“I’d listen but probably anything that’s waited this long can wait until January,” Wightman said.

Fellow senator Ken Harr of Malcom has proposed a special session to keep the pipeline out of the Sandhills because of concerns it could contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer underneath the area.

Wightman said he thinks the state has authority over the location of the route but senators probably need to wait to see if federal officials grant a permit for TransCanada Inc. to build the pipeline to carry sand tar oil.

“I think there’s some risk with it going across the aquifer but some of that has been overstated,” he said.

Likewise, Wightman said damage from a leak and risk of contamination is also a concern that has been overstated.

He noted that Tenneco Automotive in Cozad has had to deal with contamination and has installed recovery wells.

“There’s certainly some risk and how fast it could spread.” Wightman said about the proposed pipeline. “Maybe it’s so great we ought to do everything to stop it.”

Wightman said he’s leaning toward voting for an alternative pipeline route other than the Sandhills but before deciding, he wants more information.

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