LINCOLN — Nebraska groups disappointed by the governor's decision to approve a new route for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline will take their case to Washington, D.C.
A delegation of activists and concerned citizens are scheduled to meet with a U.S. State Department official Friday afternoon, said Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska. They will present information to support their argument that Nebraska's environmental analysis of the proposed pipeline route failed to adequately address threats to water resources.
“To say there is no concern and no risk to our water ... is laughable at best,” Kleeb said Tuesday during a press conference at the State Capitol.
They will arrive in Washington ahead of a group of 125 Nebraskans who will participate in a Sunday rally about global warming called Forward on Climate. Participating organizations also include the Nebraska Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Nebraska Farmers Union.
TransCanada has proposed building a 1,700-mile pipeline to carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta to refineries in the Houston area.
The company altered its planned route for the pipeline to avoid the sandy soils and high water tables of the Nebraska Sand Hills. A 2,000-page analysis of the second route by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality recently concluded that a pipeline spill wouldn't cause widespread groundwater contamination.
Gov. Dave Heineman approved the new route last month, prompting a chorus of pipeline supporters to call for its rapid approval by the State Department and President Barack Obama. The State Department has jurisdiction over the project because it crosses an international border.
Pipeline supporters say that it will provide a needed oil supply from an established trade partner and that building the project will create jobs. A national oil industry group announced Tuesday it will launch advertisements and organize public events to ramp up pressure to approve the project.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said to expect an announcement about the pipeline “in the near term.” The department is preparing to release a draft environmental impact statement, which will be followed by a public comment period and a finally a decision on whether the project is in the national interest.
Other opponents argue the diluted bitumen is “dirty oil” that will contribute significantly to greenhouse gases.
One of three Nebraska landowners who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state law used to reroute the pipeline said Tuesday a civil trial likely will be held this summer in Lancaster County District Court.
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