State Department hearings for Keystone XL oil pipeline draw Nebraska backers, critics


Summary

LINCOLN, Neb. – U.S. State Department representatives received an earful Tuesday from supporters and opponents of a proposed Canadian oil pipeline that would cross part of Nebraska’s vast underground water supply.

Both sides traded boos and jeers Tuesday during an emotional federal hearing in downtown Lincoln.

The sides staged dueling rallies in front of the Pershing Center.

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HangZhou Night Net

Pipeline supporters, dressed in bright orange, waved signs that read, “Keystone Unlocks Good Jobs for Nebraska,” and “Reason, Not Extremism.” Opponents sported red with black arm bands, flashed “Protect the Sandhills” signs and handed out shirts that said, “But Dad, our cows can’t drink oil.”

The rowdy hearing marked the second day of hearings this week in the six states that would be crossed by the Keystone XL pipeline that’s being proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP).

The debate has drawn the greatest attention in Nebraska, where the proposed route would cross part of the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to about 2 million people.

Pipeline opponent Dan Rudnick of Lincoln said he’d like to see state and federal action to at least reroute the pipeline around the Ogallala Aquifer.

Nebraska state Sen. Ken Haar, a leading pipeline critic, urged State Department officials to delay their decision on the Keystone XL pipeline or reject it. Federal officials have said they will decide by the year’s end.

Haar said the federal government and TransCanada are trying to define the national interest and “don’t give a damn about Nebraska.”

Nebraska State Senator Jim Smith, a pipeline supporter, said the proposed route is the safest and most environmental. As he finished his remarks, protesters shouted, “Shame on you!”

The pipeline would move oilsands crude from northern Alberta and hook up to TransCanada’s existing pipelines and move oil to U.S. refineries in Oklahoma and along the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department, which has to approve the pipeline because it would cross the U.S.-Canada border, is expected to decide by the end of the year.

TransCanada and its supporters say the pipeline would mean tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and more energy security for the country.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in New York over the weekend that U.S. approval of the oil pipeline is a “no-brainer” since the project would bring thousands of jobs and also ensure a secure source of energy for the United States.

Despite those reassurances, the project has become a flashpoint for environmental groups, who say the pipeline would bring “dirty oil” that requires huge amounts of energy to extract and could cause an ecological disaster in case of a spill. Opponents have urged Obama to block the project as a sign he is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Environmental activists, including actress Daryl Hannah and NASA scientist James Hansen, have been arrested in ongoing protests outside the White House the past two weeks.

In Ottawa, several hundred people showed up on Parliament Hill on Monday to protest the pipeline plans and the growth in the oilsands industry.

The demonstration was organized by Greenpeace and other groups who say the pipeline from Alberta to Texas is harmful to the environment in both Canada and the United States.

With files from The Canadian Press


LINCOLN, Neb. – U.S. State Department representatives received an earful Tuesday from supporters and opponents of a proposed Canadian oil pipeline that would cross part of Nebraska’s vast underground water supply.

Both sides traded boos and jeers Tuesday during an emotional federal hearing in downtown Lincoln.

The sides staged dueling rallies in front of the Pershing Center.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Pipeline supporters, dressed in bright orange, waved signs that read, “Keystone Unlocks Good Jobs for Nebraska,” and “Reason, Not Extremism.” Opponents sported red with black arm bands, flashed “Protect the Sandhills” signs and handed out shirts that said, “But Dad, our cows can’t drink oil.”

The rowdy hearing marked the second day of hearings this week in the six states that would be crossed by the Keystone XL pipeline that’s being proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP).

The debate has drawn the greatest attention in Nebraska, where the proposed route would cross part of the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to about 2 million people.

Pipeline opponent Dan Rudnick of Lincoln said he’d like to see state and federal action to at least reroute the pipeline around the Ogallala Aquifer.

Nebraska state Sen. Ken Haar, a leading pipeline critic, urged State Department officials to delay their decision on the Keystone XL pipeline or reject it. Federal officials have said they will decide by the year’s end.

Haar said the federal government and TransCanada are trying to define the national interest and “don’t give a damn about Nebraska.”

Nebraska State Senator Jim Smith, a pipeline supporter, said the proposed route is the safest and most environmental. As he finished his remarks, protesters shouted, “Shame on you!”

The pipeline would move oilsands crude from northern Alberta and hook up to TransCanada’s existing pipelines and move oil to U.S. refineries in Oklahoma and along the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department, which has to approve the pipeline because it would cross the U.S.-Canada border, is expected to decide by the end of the year.

TransCanada and its supporters say the pipeline would mean tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and more energy security for the country.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in New York over the weekend that U.S. approval of the oil pipeline is a “no-brainer” since the project would bring thousands of jobs and also ensure a secure source of energy for the United States.

Despite those reassurances, the project has become a flashpoint for environmental groups, who say the pipeline would bring “dirty oil” that requires huge amounts of energy to extract and could cause an ecological disaster in case of a spill. Opponents have urged Obama to block the project as a sign he is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Environmental activists, including actress Daryl Hannah and NASA scientist James Hansen, have been arrested in ongoing protests outside the White House the past two weeks.

In Ottawa, several hundred people showed up on Parliament Hill on Monday to protest the pipeline plans and the growth in the oilsands industry.

The demonstration was organized by Greenpeace and other groups who say the pipeline from Alberta to Texas is harmful to the environment in both Canada and the United States.

With files from The Canadian Press