A retired University of Nebraska professor testifies Keystone XL poses a danger to an endangered species.
It’s not the pipeline which threatens the endangered Whooping Crane, but the above ground transmission lines it would require.
“Flying into, colliding with an overhead line is the most common, the major cause of mortality in Whooping Cranes,” retired University of Nebraska – Lincoln biology professor Paul Johnsgard testifies during the Nebraska Public Service Commission hearings on TransCanada’s proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through the state.
Once numbering in the teens, Whooping Cranes have made a valiant comeback, now numbering approximately 600, both in the wild and in captivity. Johnsgard says about 350 of the birds migrate through Nebraska each year, staying for about a month in the spring and, again, a month in the fall. There are around 92 breeding pairs, which could raise 20-to-25 birds over a period of 30 years.
Johnsgard tells PSC members the loss of even Whooping Crane could hurt their rebound.
Yet, TransCanada Attorney James Powers questions how big a risk they face.
“You’d agree the risk is small, wouldn’t you?” Powers asks Johnsgard during the hearing.
“I agree that it’s a small risk, is that what you’re asking?” Johnsgard clarifies.
“Yes,” Powers replies.
“Yes,” Johnsgard says.
Johnsgard says around 60 miles of the proposed Keystone XL route would run in the middle of the 200-mile wide primary migration corridor of the Whooping Crane.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]