|Gering City Council gives formal support to pipeline|
|November 28, 2012 Jerry Purvis|
After some discussion during Monday’s council meeting, members agreed to sign on to a letter of support for the rerouting of the Keystone XL Pipeline through eastern Nebraska.
The letter, drafted by the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, is being submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality as part of its comment process in approving the move. The letter was also sent to Gov. David Heineman.
The original pipeline to bring oil from Canada to Texas crossed the Sandhills region of Nebraska, which many said would endanger the Ogallala Aquifer in the case of a leak.
The revised route establishes greater distance from sources of drinking water and also reduces the amount of fragile soils the pipeline must cross. However, the new route does cross the eastern edge of the aquifer.
The recommendation of support was submitted by City Administrator Lane Danielzuk, who is also a new member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.
“I’m surprised to see this on the agenda,” said council member Jill McFarland. “The pipeline is a critical issue right now and a lot of people are still against it. I can’t help wonder if this is outside the scope of what the city does.”
McFarland said she also wondered if the city would be supporting something their constituents don’t. She also cited a study from Columbia University that the pipeline wouldn’t bring a large influx of long-term jobs to the area.
“The whole idea of the pipeline is to help the United States become oil independent within the next 20 years,” said council member Dan Smith. “I see no reason why anyone would want to stop that.”
Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said the Legislature has already addressed concerns about potential oil spills and the ecological damage they could cause and they seem to be satisfied with the new precautions.
Again, McFarland questioned whether it was appropriate for the city to endorse the pipeline project, given the scope of the city’s responsibilities.
The vote to approve the letter of support for the Keystone XL Pipeline passed 7-1 with McFarland casting the lone ‘no’ vote. After the vote, council member Larry Gibbs requested a copy of the letter to also be sent to the White House.
In other action, council member Don Christensen reported on a Recreation Committee meeting. Members discussed transferring electric revenues from homes surrounding the Monument Shadows Golf Course to help pay off the city’s bonded indebtedness on the golf course.
The city spends $150,000 each year on those bonds, which run for the next 12 years. The money the city gets from Tax Increment Financing on construction around the golf course will run out within the next two years.
“The golf course isn’t generating enough revenue to meet that bond payment,” Christensen said. “The Gering Leasing Corporation is currently subsidizing that payment, but that will come to a screeching halt.”
Christensen said the city can’t just keep raising golf rates by five to seven percent every year. He believes the transfer payment from the electrical fund could help the city meet its bond obligation for the golf course.
The council took no action on the Recreation Committee’s recommendation, as it wasn’t an agenda item. However, it will appear for a possible vote at the Dec. 10 council meeting.obligation for the golf course.
Then council took no action on the Recreation Committee’s recommendation, as it wasn’t an agenda item. However, it will appear for a possible vote at the Dec. 10 council meeting.