October 21, 2014

TransCanada denies Energy East is alternative to Keystone XL

A TransCanada executive denies an ambitious new project by the company is being undertaken as an alternative to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Approval of Keystone XL has been delayed for years. TransCanada now awaits a decision on its route through Nebraska from the state Supreme Court.

Vice President for the Keystone Pipeline Project, Corey Goulet, says the proposed 3,000 mile oil pipeline, dubbed Energy East, that would span Canada is not a replacement for Keystone XL.

“We’ve received commitments from different customers to ship on each of these pipelines,” Goulet tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.

Some have suggested that TransCanada proposed the cross-Canadian pipeline after being rebuffed for years by the United States in building the northern portion of Keystone XL.

Goulet says if there is an alternative to transporting oil through Keystone XL, Energy East isn’t it.

“Well, certainly, we’ve seen one of the alternatives to Keystone and that’s that our customers, the oil producers, are shipping more crude by rail,” according to Goulet. “That’s increased dramatically, both in Canada as well in the U.S., the last couple of years as everyone knows.”

Goulet says oil will be shipped, one way or another; both crude from oil sands in western Canada and from the Bakken oil fields in the Dakotas. He says the most efficient, least disruptive, and most environmentally friendly way to ship it is through pipelines.

And Goulet claims the oil sands of western Canada won’t go away even if Keystone XL never receives approval.

“Certainly that oil will be produced and the producers will continue to develop their projects that they have for the oil sands and they will find a way to get that product to market.”



Ebola might grab the headlines, but don’t forget your flu vaccine

State health officials urge Nebraskans to get vaccinated for the flu.

Nebraska has had its first confirmed case of flu; actually three confirmed cases, all in Douglas County.

Nebraska Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Safranek sees it as a wakeup call.

“These are at a very low level; this amount of influenza. But it does suggest, obviously, the virus is here. Where it goes from here, it’s unpredictable,” Safranek tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Ordinarily, it’s going to be a few more weeks, usually into December and January, before we really see serious amounts of it.”

Flu season in the United States typically peaks between December and February.

Safranek says that while Ebola is in the news, flu poses a more likely danger to Nebraskans.

Safranek says Ebola has evoked more hysteria than justified.

“Obviously, we’re all concerned about Ebola. It’s an incredibly, interesting, and unprecedented problem,” according to Safranek. “I would say right now there’s more of an epidemic of fear and concern and worry, more than a real threat for Ebola in our population.”

Safranek warns Nebraskans are much more susceptible to the flu. He urges everyone to get a flu shot, but especially the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions.

Children under eight should receive the flu vaccine through a nasal spray, if available, according to health officials.

Safranek says concern about Ebola shouldn’t keep residents from getting their flu shot.

“The best thing people can do if they’re really concerned about their health is to think what’s really here and what has a good chance of impacting them and that’s influenza,” Safranek says. “It’s preventable with an influenza vaccine.”

For more flu information, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/flu.

Field office closes, storm recovery continues (AUDIO)

Destruction left in wake of Pilger tornado

Destruction left in wake of Pilger tornado

The final field office opened to respond to the devastating storms of this summer has finally closed, but recovery continues.

The Wayne disaster recovery field office closed this past weekend. The Grand Island office closed earlier.

Recovery efforts continue, according to Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Assistant Director Bryan Tuma, who feels for those turned upside down by a succession of severe storms.

“Honestly speaking, although it’s very difficult for those folks, I mean it’s never easy to put your life back together after something like that. But, I think that is coming along,” Tuma tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Severe weather hit Nebraska beginning on Mother’s Day, May 11th, with damage to Beaver Crossing, Cordova, and Sutton. Storms returned in June, with the greatest damage coming June 16th when an EF4 tornado struck Pilger.

Though Pilger gets much of the attention, more than 20 counties suffered damage from tornadoes this summer.

Nebraska received three presidential disaster declarations this year for storms, tornadoes, winds, and flooding.

Tuma says NEMA and FEMA remain active in recovery efforts, consolidating efforts in Lincoln.

Tuma is quick to point out the work of charities, church groups, and volunteers.

“There’s a lot of thanks that needs to go around to a lot of different folks and that’s a part of who we are here in this state and so it’s very encouraging to watch that process.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Young southeastern Nebraska man dies in ATV accident

A young, southeastern Nebraska man has died in an all-terrain-vehicle accident.

The Saline County Sheriff’s Office reports 26-year-old Nathan Casteel of Crete hit a utility pole with his ATV just before midnight Saturday.

Emergency crews rushed Casteel to Crete Area Medical Center, but he was later pronounced dead from injuries suffered in the wreck.

Beautiful fall weather could be leading to bike deaths on Nebraska roads

Twenty-five people lost their lives on Nebraska roads last month.

Perhaps, not a huge number for a September. Last September, 23 people died in traffic wrecks in Nebraska. In 2012, 29 people died on Nebraska roadways in September.

Still, some aspects of last month’s carnage stand out.

Five motorcyclists died.

One bicyclist died.

Nebraska Office of Highway Safety Administrator Fred Zwonechek blames, in part, this beautiful fall weather.

“And weather plays a factor,” Zwonechek tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The nicer it is, the more people are going to ride.”

Nebraska has a record number of licensed motorcyclists at more than 95,000 with 55,000 motorcycles licensed.

Bike riding also seems to be up, substantially.

Drinking played a role in fatal wrecks last month.

Zwonechek says the number of deaths would have dropped drastically with fewer distracted drivers as well.

“And that means putting the cell phone down. No texting. Basically, staying off the phone,” according to Zwonechek. “Driving demands your full attention. Literally, in a split second, you make an error in judgment, a mistake, and it can be deadly.”

None of the fatal crashes occurred on I-80. Ten fatal traffic accidents occurred on non-Interstate highways. Fifteen took place on local roads. Sixteen of the fatalities happened on rural roads.

Eleven of the 19 people riding in cars who died weren’t buckled up.

“Extremely frustrating,” Zwonechek says. “We know that just statistically that more than half of those people who died who weren’t wearing seat belts, had they been wearing them, they would have survived and many of them would have had minor injuries.”