LINCOLN — Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman sent a letter to the president Wednesday asking the government to deny a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, citing concerns over pollution of the state's largest aquifer.
The governor's letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that he is not opposed to pipelines in general.
“I am opposed to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline route because it is directly over the Ogallala Aquifer,” the governor wrote.
TransCanada has been working to obtain government approval of a $7 billion pipeline to pump oil from Canada's tar-sands wellfields to refineries in Texas.
Supporters say the project will create jobs and help meet the nation's petroleum demand, while critics say it is an unacceptable threat to Nebraska's primary supply of drinking and irrigation water.
Two supporters of the pipeline who were visiting Lincoln Wednesday said they were disappointed by the governor's letter.
"We're sorry to see it. This is a shovel-ready project," said Matt Koch, a vice president with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "The sooner we get this done, the sooner we see the immediate economic benefits."
The chamber on Tuesday announced the formation of a pro-pipeline group, "Partnership to Fuel America," that so far consists of mostly small businesses in Nebraska.
Rerouting the pipeline would delay construction and force another round of environmental reviews, although U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns — who has also called for the pipeline to avoid the Sand Hills — has said a new route would avoid time-consuming lawsuits.