Landowners Invited to Join Pipeline Route Discussion

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The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is planning four meetings across the state to give landowners a first glance at the new proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline.

But opponents of the pipeline are concerned there's more to it than just that.

Department of Environmental Quality Director Mike Linder says they're hoping the meetings, held in cities along the proposed new corridor for the pipeline, will be informative for citizens and their organization.

But opponents are still concerned that TransCanada's new proposed route won't do an adequate job of avoiding the Sandhills.

"This pipeline still crosses sandy soil, still crosses the Sandhills, and still crosses the Ogallala aquifer," Bold Nebraska Director Jane Kleeb says. "This is still not a good route."

Department of Environmental Quality officials say after hearing from citizens at the meetings, they'll give their feedback to the company. Then there are still several steps to take before the route is finalized.

Kleeb and other opponents are hopeful that the route can still change, given the changes made after previous discussions and negotiations.

"That's our hope that they'll listen again and people will come in and speak up," Nebraska Farmer's Union Vice President Roy Stoltenberg says.

But opponents say their biggest concern right now is TransCanada's approach to landowners. In anticipation of the Department of Environmental Quality meetings, opponents of the pipeline are warning landowners not to talk to the company.

"TransCanada has no legal right to come onto their property," Kleeb says. "Landowners don't even need to return TransCanada or their land agents' phone calls."

Opponents say that pressure from the company has gone too far.

"They shouldn't be bullied," Stoltenberg says.

TransCanada officials deny pressuring any landowners to sell their land and confirm they will have representatives attending the four meetings.