Maybe it was the 91 jack-o-lanterns refusing to blink staring up at the Nebraska Governor reminding him the potential number of leaks that would soil the Ogallala aquifer? Or maybe it was the thousands of Nebraskans who showed up in Lincoln and Atkinson a month ago to urge the Obama Administration to NOT approve the Keystone XL pipeline? Or maybe it was just plain cornhusker common sense? Regardless, early this week in a moment of clarity Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman announced that he is calling the Nebraska state legislature into a special session on November 1st to address oil pipeline siting and routing regulations relating to the pending Keystone XL project.
Ben Gotschall drinks straight from the Ogallala Aquifer on his farm in the Nebraska Sandhills
This is an important step in the battle to protect the Sandhills and the Ogallala Aquifer from the pending danger of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. For months, Nebraska citizens have been gathering signatures, writing letters and knocking on doors urging their Governor to hear their concerns and use his leadership to pass a law protecting their land and water from the pending pipeline. It appears Governor Heineman is listening. In announcing the special session the Governor said he expected a thoughtful and thorough public discussion about solutions for the pipeline route. Lets hope that this “discussion” actually leads to a law preventing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from jeopardizing Nebraska’s Sandhills and the heart of the Ogallala Aquifer.
Just as Governor Heineman seems to be finally hearing the drumbeat of concern from Nebraska citizens and landowners, the Obama Administration needs to now do the same. As the Department of State moves closer and closer to making a final decision on this project, this recent development in Nebraska should perk their attention. If the state of Nebraska steps up to the plate and is able to legislate the pipeline around the Sandhills and the aquifer, TransCanada would face an additional roadblock potentially having to conduct an entirely new Environmental Impact Statement.
The list of concerns is long. Over the past months the EPA has highlighted their alarm with Keystone XL- giving it a failing grade on its environmental merits. Tens of thousands of landowners, farmers, ranchers and concerned citizens in Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas testified to the Department of State that this project threatens their land, water and livelihood. Thousands more even traveled to Washington DC risking arrest to deliver these concerns in front of the White House. Now the entire state of Nebraska may make an unprecedented attempt at halting this dangerous pipeline from crossing their beloved Ogallala Aquifer.
The Obama Administration has a decision to make. They must decide if the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is in our national interest.
Our nation is speaking loud and clear and the answer is as straightforward as the jack-o-lanterns staring at Governor Heineman- NO.
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