A new coalition has formed to oppose TransCanada’s proposal to build an oil pipeline through the Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer.
Nebraska Farmers Union president John Hansen says his group has joined others to form the Save Our Sandhills coalition. Hansen says the group has formed to oppose the route, not necessarily the pipeline. He says that route doesn’t just endanger a major water source.
“TransCanada simply took the shortcut right through some of the most environmentally-sensitive areas that you could possibly imagine, not only for water quality reasons, but also for re-vegetation,” according to Hansen.
Hansen says he’s worried about how both building the pipeline and operating it might erode the soil in the fragile Sand Hills.
The coalition is calling on Governor Heineman to call the legislature into special session to address the issue. The governor has rejected such suggestions.
A study conducted for the State Department downplays any environmental risks from the Keystone XL pipeline. It concludes the environmental risks of the pipeline are low and not significant enough to block construction. The study will be used by the State Department to determine whether TransCanada should be given a permit to build the $ 7 billion pipeline over 1,700 from western Canada to the Gulf Coast. TransCanada proposes sending crude oil extracted from tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas. The pipeline as proposed would go through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Two public hearings on the proposal will be held in Nebraska later this month, one in the Sand Hills. The first public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27th at the Pershing Center in Lincoln, beginning at noon. The State Department will take testimony from noon until 3:30pm, take a break and return for more testimony at 4pm. Two days later, the State Department will hear from the public in Atkinson. That public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, September 29th at West Holt High School in Atkinson, scheduled to begin at 4:30pm.