The Nebraska Public Service Commission is setting aside five days in August to take comments on the proposed route of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. TransCanada has filed for approval of the route from north-central to southeast Nebraska.
The routing of the Dakota Access pipeline led to protests and arrests in North Dakota. Governor Pete Ricketts says they’ll prepare for similar trouble here.
“Certainly we want to protect people’s free speech rights and allow them to be able to protest but we also have to do it in a way that is protesting lawfully and that’s not what we saw in North Dakota,” Ricketts says. “We saw people violating private property rights, trespassing, and in some cases, it started to turn violent.”
Ricketts says there are concerns about protesters from elsewhere joining in.
“There’s certainly going to be people in Nebraska with legitimate concerns about the pipeline and they’ll want to express those, but if we have people coming in from out-of-state, those are the ones that can end up being dangerous,” Ricketts says. “They really don’t care about the local Nebraskans. They’re there for a political agenda.”
Ricketts says oil pipelines like Keystone XL are still needed to fuel the economy.
“We want to be responsible stewards of the land but we can’t shut down fossil fuels or our society would come to a screeching halt,” the governor says. “We really have to watch out for these radical environmentalists who are coming in from outside the state. These are the people who are typically going to be causing more problems, not the people from inside the state who really want to express their concerns about the pipelines.”
The PSC has until November to make a decision on the pipeline route.
Keystone XL is an $8 billion project. TransCanada wants to connect the pipeline from western Canada to the pump station at Steele City, Nebraska, where it can be connected to the southern portion of the pipeline, sending crude to oil refineries at the Gulf Coast.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton