Governor Heineman has written the Obama Administration, asking that it deny TransCanada a permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline through the Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer.
Heineman says he doesn’t oppose TransCanada constructing a pipeline through Nebraska, but does oppose TransCanada’s proposed route.
“We’re not generally opposed to pipelines. We’re opposed to this proposed route over the Ogallala Aquifer. We don’t want to risk contamination of our water supply,” Heineman tells Nebraska Radio Network.
In his letter [DOWNLOAD PDF] , Heineman states that, “Maintaining and protecting Nebraska’s water supply is very important to me and the residents of Nebraska.” He calls it the lifeblood of Nebraska’s agriculture industry.
Heineman wrote the letter to both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The State Department is involved, because the pipeline would originate in Canada. TransCanada proposes building a $7 billion pipeline to carry crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast. The pipeline as proposed would go through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Heineman believes that if the permit is denied, the company would choose a different route.
“They already have a route on the eastern side of the state with a pipeline. If this route being proposed for this would be similar to that route I think most Nebraskans would agree with that,” Heineman reasons.
State Senator Ken Haar of Malcolm continues to call for a special session for the legislature to approve a bill against constructing a pipeline through the Sand Hills. He tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN that would allow Nebraskans, rather than the federal government, to decide the route of the pipeline.
Heineman has rejected calls to convene a special session on the issue. The governor says the state’s efforts to oppose the pipeline route should be concentrated on the federal permit process.
“So, again, I want to focus where the decision is going to be made by the Obama Administration and I hope Senator Haar and all the other members of the legislature will send a letter indicating they support what we’ve done here,” Heineman says.
The governor says he doesn’t believe the State Department has already reached a decision on the pipeline. He points out the State Department has scheduled two public hearings in Nebraska in late September to listen to concerns from Nebraska about the pipeline. The first will be held in Lincoln, at the Pershing Center, on September 27th. The second will be held at the West Holt High School in Atkinson, in the Sand Hills, on September 29th.
“I hope and think they’re trying to listen to Nebraskans and when you’ve got the governor of the state on record against the permit, one United States Senator, hope other elected officials in due course, I think they’ve got to pay attention to that,” says Heineman. “They ought to pay attention to what Nebraskans have to say.”