WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, expressed his amazement Wednesday as the Republican-controlled Senate said no to protecting the water supply of communities that would be in the vicinity of the Keystone XL pipeline. Senator Cardin’s amendment #75 to S. 1 would have provided communities that rely on drinking water from a source that may be affected by a bitumen leak or spill from the Keystone XL pipeline an analysis of the potential risks to public health and the environment from a leak or rupture of the pipeline. It also would have provided legal recourse for private landowners in the event of water contamination.
“All Americans deserve clean water. It is wholly disappointing that public health and safety are not a high priority when it comes to pushing through this major Canadian pipeline that would bisect the largest underground freshwater source in the United States, from North to South. The Ogallala Aquifer provides drinking water to two million people. There are segments of the proposed pipeline that would pass over the Ogallala where the groundwater depth is only five to 15 feet below the surface, presenting an inordinate risk to water resources in the event a spill should occur. It is hard to understand how protecting clean water for two million people, and giving them legal protections in the case of faulty construction or operation of the Keystone XL pipeline should not be a part of this major legislation.”
S. Amdt 75 would have required an analysis of potential risks to nearby drinking water be given to each Governor in pipeline areas where water could be affected. Each Governor could then submit a petition to have the construction moved to a different area. Additionally, private property owners with private wells that can prove their wells were safe before the construction and operation of the pipeline have then become contaminated by the project, would have expressed authority to sue the pipeline owner for damages.