Special Report: Landowners Discuss Pipeline Report

By: Rowena Li Email
By: Rowena Li Email

When it comes to supporting the Keystone XL, Tom Briese says he made his decision based on the facts.

"It seems to me that an objective analysis of the facts suggests that this project should be approved and the route should be approved," said Briese.

The Boone County resident said he started looking at Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality studies after the new proposed route moved the pipeline onto the land his family has farmed for nearly 100 years.

"It boils down to the need for fossil fuels, the need for energy security, coupled with generation of economic activity, jobs, and property taxes in the state," explained Briese.

Opponents of the pipeline, however, say the study isn't credible.

"This company that DEQ hired to do this survey, they work for Keystone! That's a conflict of interest!," noted Lloyd Hipke of Stuart, Neb. Hipke said the new proposed route goes straight over the well that furnishes water for his house.

And opponents say there's more harm than benefits.

"They didn't move out of the sand area. This is still very sandy. Once it's stirred up on top, you can't re-grass it in a lifetime," said landowner Sandra Brener.

Briese said that although he understands the concerns of opponents, he also has confidence in his government agencies.

"If it's good enough for the DEQ, it's good enough for me," he said.

While they don't all agree, some opponents say they would be more accepting of a pipeline if the route moves completely out of the Sandhills.

"Mostly I'm against it because of the area they want to go through. I'm not 100% against it if they stayed at where they're heavy soils and no high water table. But that's not the case. They keep moving it over a little bit, but it's not getting out of the water or out of the sand," said landowner Lonnie Brener. Both the old and new proposed routes run through his family's land.

But as the route stands now, opponents say they hope the government sides with them.

"Go for the country, for the land, the water, I think he should take that into consideration, not just money," said landowner Lavonne Beck of Governor Dave Heineman's decision.

Once the governor makes his decision, it will be passed on to the U.S. State Department, which will then make a recommendation to President Barack Obama, who will have the final say.


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