Environment

We’re encouraged when we see local government bodies interact with others on controversial topics in calm voices and respectful attitudes.

That was the scene again recently when the Madison County board of commissioners and three representatives of TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, answered questions and shared thoughts during about a 30-minute discussion. The healthy exchange took place with neither side shouting. Instead, they talked and exchanged information, which enabled a lot of topics to be covered.

It ultimately resulted in the commissioners approving roads that would be used to construct the pipeline and authorized the execution of driveway permits and underground utility crossing permits. About 35 permits are expected to be approved in the county.

All this is just one of many steps necessary in order for the controversial pipeline to be constructed, with Madison County’s portion of roughly 30 miles just one piece in the proposed 1,184-mile pipeline.

By now, everyone has probably read some less-than-pleasant meetings that have taken place elsewhere, including in Nebraska. The pipeline has drawn opposition from people who fear it will cause environmental damage and includes some court challenges that are still being sorted out.

The pipeline is being designed to transport oil from western Canada to terminals on the Gulf Coast. Commissioners had plenty of questions for TC Energy, covering such things as who would be responsible for cleanup if there would be a leak, who would fix the roads if they are damaged during construction and would the company be willing to halt construction if there is a wet spring like last year, where bridges could be wiped out and truck traffic could destroy roads.

In all instances, Robert Latimer, Dan Forbes and Alyssa Ledon answered questions thoroughly and in simple terms. Ultimately, the company has agreed to be responsible for any damage that might occur, whether it is roads or a leak. That’s a good neighbor.

We recognize that’s no guarantee there won’t be a leak or some roads might get damaged during construction. It is however, worth noting that 99.999 percent of oil transported through pipelines arrives safely and without any type of incident. It’s also worth noting that there’s no guarantee that the hundreds of pipelines, gas lines and other utilities buried in Nebraska already won’t leak at some point. Nor are there guarantees that trains won’t derail or trucks crash. It’s part of the risks of living in a modern society.

TC has operated a pipeline from Canada through eastern Nebraska and the Midwest since 2010. There have been a few leaks, including a minor one in Stanton County a few years ago. The company has been responsible, but that’s not to say it has been perfect.

The bottom line is when both sides are communicating, problems can be addressed.

It is in everyone’s best interests to try and work through questions and problems. We like how the Madison County board of commissioners recognizes the importance of communication.

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