TransCanada biologist disputes claim that Keystone XL pipeline would harm endangered whooping cranes

Keystone XL

Two whooping cranes browse a cut corn field along the Platte River Valley in Buffalo County, Nebraska.
MARK DAVIS/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — A biologist employed by TransCanada is disputing contentions that new transmission lines associated with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would harm endangered whooping cranes.

Jon Schmidt, a Florida-based regulatory consultant for the pipeline firm, said that the 36-inch, crude-oil pipeline would require only about 20 miles of additional electrical transmission lines (to serve pipeline pumping stations) across Nebraska.

That, Schmidt said, represents only a .4 percent increase in the 5,471 miles of transmission lines that already exist in the migratory corridor used by the cranes, representing a “very minor” risk to whoopers.

Keystone XL

Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline route. The World-Herald

The written testimony, submitted earlier this week, rebuts testimony filed a month ago by Paul Johnsgard, a retired University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor who has written extensively about whooping cranes.

Johnsgard said that the new electric transmission lines required by the XL project would “significantly” increase whooper deaths from collisions with the lines.

When asked about the rebuttal on Wednesday, Johnsgard agreed that the risk was small but said that losing even one of the endangered cranes wasn’t worth it.

“I don’t regard even a slight danger as something that should be ignored,” he said, adding that power line collisions are the No. 1 cause of death for whoopers.

TransCanada is seeking permission from Nebraska for a 275-mile route for the Keystone XL across the state. Several pumping stations will be built, which will require building electric transmission lines to them.

Read more here and let us know what you think.

 

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Prison time for whooping crane shooter after probation violation

Sherrie Roden, Guest author
President, Golden Triangle Audubon Society

Whooping crane

Photograph by Justin Carrasquillo

In 2016, Trey Joseph Frederick, III of Beaumont, TX was put on probation for shooting two endangered whooping cranes belonging to the reintroduced flock in Louisiana. Frederick’s probation prohibited him from hunting or fishing anywhere in the United States and from owning or possessing firearms or dangerous weapons. Frederick broke the terms of his probation by hunting from a vehicle with an AR-15 rifle along a Jefferson County road. He appeared in court today.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn sentenced Trey Joseph Frederick, III to 11 months confinement in Federal prison, 1 year supervised release in addition to the standard and special conditions of his original sentence for his violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of killing two Whooping Cranes of the Louisiana flock. The only exception is that he waived the 200 hours of community service.

The reason for waiving the community service is that he wants all of his time, when he is released, working to obtain the money to pay the original restitution of $12,907.50 each to the International Crane Foundation and to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

Kudos to The Honorable Joe Batte, the prosecuting attorney and to US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, The Honorable Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn for pursuing this case and seeing that justice was served.

Also, special thanks to all agencies and individuals who rendered their time and efforts to investigate this case. The sending of letters and the courtroom attendance of members of the Golden Triangle Audubon Society, the Houston Audubon Society as well as the International Crane Foundation was recognized by Judge Hawthorn in supporting his decision.

Special thanks for those attending today: Edra Bogucki, Sheila Hebert, John Park, Debbie Bradshaw, Joanna Friesen, Barbara Tilton, Houston Sliger, and Sherrie Roden.

It has come to my attention that the Jefferson County District Attorney, the Honorable Bob Wortham has the intentions of pursuing a case against Frederick for hunting while his hunting license was revoked or denied. It is important that we have a letter writing campaign on that matter. His mailing address is:

Honorable Bob Wortham
Criminal District Attorney
1085 Pearl Street Suite 300
Beaumont, Texas 77701

FOTWW would like to thank Sherrie Roden for allowing us to use her account of today’s court proceedings.

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