Myth vs. Fact: KXL will Threaten the Ogallala Aquifer

MYTH: KXL will threaten the Ogallala Aquifer.

FACT: Crude oil has been produced and transported within the Ogallala Aquifer for decades, and the presence of the Keystone XL will not pose a unique threat to the area.

Since 1930, 24 billion barrels of crude oil have been produced within the aquifer.[1] Nearly 25,000 miles of petroleum pipelines already exist across the aquifer, transporting 730 billion barrels of oil.[2] The nature of the aquifer is also such that in the rare occurrence of a pipeline leak, any released liquid would not be able to travel far, thus reducing any environmental risks. According to the United States Geological Study (USGS), the Ogallala moves slowly – only about one foot per day.[3] Expected impact, according to Ogallala hydrologist and UNL Professor Emeritus Jim Goeke, would be measured in only the tens or hundreds of feet.[4]

In response to concerns over the safety of the Ogallala, TransCanada committed the KXL to more stringent federal pipeline regulations and additional safety measures including using stronger steel, conducting more frequent integrity tests and applying additional spill protections.[5]

[1] Nebraska Keystone XL website, The Ogallala Aquifer

[2] Data from the National Pipeline Mapping System

[3] United States Geological Study, High Plains Water-Level Monitoring Study, 1984

[4] Nebraska Resources Committee, Transcript, 1 Dec 2010

[5] Nebraska Keystone XL website, The Ogallala Aquifer


  1. [...] In the case of the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, billions of barrels of crude oil are being safely produced and transported across the Ogallala Aquifer by existing pipelines. Sierra Club’s claim is speculative, if not [...]

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