By Deb Courson Smith

While Montanans are still dealing with the Yellowstone River pipeline spill, a study comes out today that examines the “worst-case scenarios” if there were a major spill from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline crossing of the Yellowstone and other locations.

Report author John Stansbury, Ph.D., is an environmental engineer at the University of Nebraska. He says he wrote the report because the only other available information about risks and damage came from the company planning the pipeline and those financially connected to the project.

“My entire motivation is to provide my decision-makers – legislators, governors and State Department folks – with an independent, unbiased assessment of the potential spills and impacts from those spills.”

Stansbury contends that company assessments are too rosy, as far as size of potential spills and how long it would take to shut the pipeline down. He calls his study a starting point for other scientific research needed to delve deeper into possible environmental damage. He says that means full disclosure about the pipeline contents must be made.

“That’s one of the weak points of my, and anybody else’s, study. We don’t know exactly what the contents actually are, so it’s really difficult to assess what will be done when they’re released into the environment.”

He also looked at potential damages of a spill on the Missouri River, with its effects on drinking and irrigation water in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The full report is being released at 9 a.m. (MDT) at