Last Thursday, braving heavy snow and wind, hundreds of commited citizens lined up to testify at the lone public hearing on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. By most estimates, it was 9 to 1 against the pipeline, and administrators of the hearing had to stay late into the night to hear everyone’s testimony.
Nebraska has always been ground zero for opposition to the pipeline. Keystone, if built, would go through the Olagalla Aquifer and Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills, putting each at risk. Ranchers and farmers, some of whom have been on their land for generations, see the pipeline as an existential threat, and they’re not shy about telling anyone, at anytime, that they don’t want this pipeline.
President Obama heard their voices when he denied the permit for Keystone two years ago. It remains to be seen if he will listen this time, but there’s little doubt that the voices of Nebraskans ought to sound louder to the president than those of TransCanada, the company behind KXL. This was what he said in 2011:
“Folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health. We don’t want, for example, aquifers to be adversely affected. Folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted.”
If you missed the hearing, here’s a beautiful video that captures some of what it must have been like to be there. Please pass it on.