Pipeline Hearings in Lincoln Spark Fierce Debate from Both Sides

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

After a largely amicable first round of public hearings into a proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, U.S. State Department officials encounter fierce resistance during a listening session in Nebraska.

Environmentalists and some landowners rallied outside the Pershing Center near the state Capitol in Lincoln. They argue the Keystone XL pipeline would carry dirty oil. The proposed $7 billion pipeline would move tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through six U.S. states.

“We have to be serious about the risk,” said State Senator Ken Haar at the hearing. “The risk is not worth having that pipeline across the Sand Hills. "

During the opening round of hearings Monday, Texans praised the project while Kansas residents were concerned about its potential dangers.

But the opposition is strong in Nebraska.

There's growing concern about the pipeline's effect on a vast subterranean reservoir that provides water across a large swath of the Great Plains.

Nebraskans had the chance to speak to U.S. State Department officials about the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline during hearings in Lincoln and Atkinson. The meetings were held at the Pershing Center in Lincoln Tuesday. The second meeting is scheduled at West Holt High School in Atkinson on Thursday, from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Long before the hearing started, protesters on both sides of the issue gathered outside Pershing Center in Lincoln to make their voices heard.

“We are supporting the pipeline,” said John McCollister, The Executive Director at the Platte Institute. “It reduces our need to import so much oil it’s a great boost to jobs the effect for Nebraska is more than $150 million.”

Protesters waved signs and chanted slogans while those planning to testify waited in line outside the doors.

Groups arrived by the bus load, some from out of state.

One man from Illinois said he supported the pipeline because it would bring jobs to every state it goes through.

Another woman dressed as the Grim Reaper said her main concern is the potential for water pollution, saying without water, we die.

One protester said she hadn't seen a cause bring out so many Nebraskans in a long time and that it was good to see so many people exercising their democratic rights.

The State Department is holding hearings this week in all the states the international pipeline would cross. The final meeting will take place Oct. 7 in Washington, D.C

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