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Testimony Today on Keystone XL Pipeline Route in Nebraska

Opponents contend the Keystone XL Pipeline will never be in the public interest. (Elvert Barnes/Flickr)
Opponents contend the Keystone XL Pipeline will never be in the public interest. (Elvert Barnes/Flickr)
June 7, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. - The battle over the Keystone XL pipeline is heating up in Nebraska.

The Trump administration gave a green light to the pipeline, and it's up to the Nebraska Public Service Commission to decide if TransCanada will be allowed to construct part of the route through the Sandhills. The $8 billion pipeline would transport more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada's Alberta tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

Supporters have said Keystone XL is good for the economy and will increase the nation's energy independence. but Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb contended that the pipeline never will be in the public interest.

"Nebraska yet again is at the heart of the resistance against the pipeline," she said. "This is a foreign pipeline, carrying foreign tar sands, using foreign steel, and headed to the foreign export market. No Nebraska oil is coming on, and no oil is coming off."

Public comments will be taken at a hearing today in O'Neill, with local landowners, activists and concerned citizens expected to testify, along with representatives from TransCanada and the oil and gas industry. A third hearing with formal testimony is scheduled for early August.

Besides posing a threat to the economic viability of farmland in the state, Kleeb argued, the Keystone XL route crosses the Ogallala Aquifer, putting the drinking water for millions at risk. If the Public Service Commission grants the permit, she added, it will be the first time Nebraska has given a foreign company eminent-domain rights.

"Eminent domain is already pretty much hated by everybody, even when it's used for public-purpose projects," she said, "but it is unconscionable that a private corporation, especially a foreign-owned corporation, could be using eminent domain for their private gain against American landowners."

According to the Institute for 21st Century Energy, the pipeline would create more than 20,000 new jobs by 2020, including 300 in Nebraska.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE