Hundreds Attend Final Pipeline Hearing

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Before the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality submitted their final Keystone XL report to Governor Dave Heineman, they held a public hearing in Albion.

NDEQ Director Mike Linder says they've already been taking into account what Nebraskans had to say at earlier hearings.

"Back in May we heard concerns about certain parts of the route, and we shared some similar concerns and provided that feedback to the company and they did adjust the route in some areas," says Linder.

TransCanada says their new route avoids the region the NDEQ identified as the Sandhills, and the NDEQ says TransCanada moved the potential pipeline farther from the drinking water sources of communities like Clarks and Western and will be testing domestic and livestock wells near the line.

"We think the project should be approved," says Corey Goulet, TransCanada Vice President of Keystone Pipeline Projects. "We think we've listened to Nebraskans and we've listened to the DEQ and we've made the changes necessary. We've been in Nebraska for 30 years and we intend to be here for decades to come."

Groups like Americans for Prosperity say they want the jobs and economic development the pipeline will provide without using tax credits or subsidies.

"We say yes, absolutely," says AFP Nebraska State Director Brad Stevens. "We've done it three other times across Nebraska - there are three pipelines actually operational right now: the original Keystone pipeline, the Platte pipeline, and the Jayhawk pipeline."

Stevens says they have polling data that shows over 60% of Nebraskans support the pipeline, but opponents disagree.

One landowner says people change their minds once they hear the new route is still in the Sandhills and still crosses the Ogalala Aquifer.

"The people that live on the land know the difference," says Tom Genung, whose Holt County land is no longer part of the pipeline's route, but says TransCanada still holds an easement agreement over them. "Anybody that wants to pay attention and protect the aquifer are changing their minds."

When the NDEQ finishes their report in the next few weeks, the governor has 30 days to review it.

"The Department of State still has work to do after we're done," says Linder. "Our report, if it's approved by the governor, then goes to the Department of State and actually gets used in their final environmental impact statement as a supplement."