Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 104: What's the matter with Kansas?

On my first day in Kansas, I walked a country road to the medium-sized town of Washington, situated just a mile or so from the Keystone Pipeline that was built in 2010.

I left the country road and headed for town. A large man was walking with two mammoth St. Bernards. The St. Bernards ran up to me, and I asked their owner where I might find a spot in town to set up my tent. He asked me what I was doing, and I asked him what the people in town thought of the pipeline.

"Well, there are pros and cons," he said. "People are pretty upset about the exemption."

"The exemption?"

"Yeah. For some reason Kansas decided to give TransCanada a 10-year exemption. That means TransCanada don't have to pay no property taxes. We were the only state to do that."

"So what are the pros?" I asked.

"Well..." he said, pausing to think. "I guess there aren't any."

An exemption? That made no sense to me. The 2010 Keystone Pipeline goes through 10 states and provinces, yet Kansas is the only one to give them an exemption. (South Dakota also gave them exemptions, but those weren't nearly as generous as Kansas's.) All the other states tax TransCanada and make millions of dollars from those taxes. That's why states like pipelines: They get money. How much money Kansas is missing out on is unclear, but several sources say it's upwards of $20 million a year.

I did a little research and found out that Kansas gives 10-year property tax exemptions to energy companies to lure them into the state. But this exemption still made no sense because Keystone had to come through Kansas anyway so the pipe could reach the refineries in Cushing, Oklahoma. Plus, TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha has gone on record, stating:

[TransCanada didn't] originate this tax abatement issue. We weren't part of that discussion. We were already in the process of finalizing our proposed route.

When I stopped in Marion County, Kansas, I was told that there was one guy who would be able to answer all of my questions about the Keystone in Kansas. I met with and interviewed County Commissioner Dan Holub in the lobby of the local police station.


Unknown said...

Wow!! You found a commissioner who is NOT happy with the shannigans of Transcanada. Good interview!! And the truth continues to be told of all the lies TC likes to use to threaten landowners. I guess we live and learn. Those TC men in 3 piece suits don't impress me NONE!!!!!!

TomInBellaVista said...

You edited the video, did he tell you about the Governor, Sam Brownback? He is a former US Senator, ultra conservative, and his agenda is to eliminate as many business taxes as possible. Many Kansans are starting to refer to their state as "Brownbackistan"

Anonymous said...

Peabody Pete,

I saw your 5 minute video of Commissioner Holub. Hillsboro Free Press has covered this topic since the public first learned about Keystone in 2008. A 5 minute interview does not do justice to the subject. Reading the Hillsboro Free Press articles through the years fills in lots of background information.

One question is about this NEW Keystone XL pipeline. If the NEW 36 inch diameter pipeline were buried from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steel City, Nebraska, does TransCanada plan to bury another 36 inch diameter oil sands pipe from Steel City, Nebraska through Kansas to Cushing, Oklahoma and continue on down to Houston ?

I could never find an answer. Does TransCanada need MORE easement in Kansas to lay this new 36 inch Keystone XL pipeline OR can they use the already existing easement with the existing 30 inch diameter oil sands pipeline ? If they plan to only use the existing 30 inch diameter pipeline in Kansas, what sense does that make ? Trying to squeeze 36 inch diameter worth of oil into a 30 inch diameter pipe ?

If TransCanada needs MORE easement in Kansas, where will they find it ?

Ken said...

Thanks Abbi!

Tom--He didn't mention Brownback. He said this policy was instituted when Gov. Sebelius was in office. This whole episode, though, validates author Thomas Frank's theories.

Pete--It's my understanding that the oil will run through the 30-inch Keystone pipe. I don't know enough about pipeline to comment on the feasibility of that. I could be wrong..

Anonymous said...

Havn't seen an update in awhile, hope all is ok!