WASHINGTON—For close to a year, Nebraska activists have hounded their state elected officials to act on behalf of constituents feeling threatened by a Canadian company's proposal to construct a controversial tar sands oil pipeline.
But most state legislators have repeatedly shooed them away, claiming they have no such authority to regulate or route oil pipelines in the Cornhusker State. That task, they repeatedly insist, is up to Congress and other federal authorities.
Now, however, the advocates claim they have received solid proof — in the form of a six-page memo from the Congressional Research Service — revealing that the governor, the attorney general and state legislators do indeed have that power.
Advocates are convinced the federal document, which "surfaced" at the Nebraska Statehouse six months after it was written, proves that state authorities could be taking the initiative to protect residents' property rights and ensure that an oil pipeline doesn't harm ecologically sensitive landscapes, the economy or the public's health.
Jane Kleeb is director of the advocacy coalition Bold Nebraska, which has spearheaded a grassroots effort to halt a new $7 billion pipeline. At issue is Keystone XL, a 1,702-mile pipeline that Calgary-based TransCanada wants to construct from tar sands mines in its home province of Alberta to oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
It has the potential to double — or perhaps triple — the amount of diluted bitumen flowing to this country from its northern neighbor at a time when the issue of energy security has become a matter of national focus. Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. imports of oil sands crude grew five-fold from 100,000 to 500,000 barrels per day. That number could balloon to 1.5 million barrels per day by 2019.
"Our message to them is crystal clear," Kleeb told SolveClimate News in an interview. "They have no more wiggle room. We have a federal memo saying that this is the state's responsibility; essentially it's their duty. We are hoping they now start to take their roles and responsibilities seriously. For them to turn their back on landowners is shameful."
Read the full article at SolveClimate