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Keystone Pipeline debate held smack dab in the Sandhills

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Keystone Pipeline debate held smack dab in the Sandhills

proposed route through Nebraska

proposed route through Nebraska

proposed route through Nebraska

proposed route through Nebraska

Caitlin Wilson, Web Editor

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Benjamin Gotschall testifying at the Pipeline meeting in Atkinson, NE

September 29th was a pivotal meeting for the Keystone XL pipeline that is proposed to run through the Nebraska Sandhills and many other areas in the heart of the U.S. It was held in Atkinson, Nebraska at the local high school. Atkinson is a small town smack dab in the thick of the Sandhills. It’s pretty much ground zero for opposition of the proposed pipeline.

The proposed pipeline is a 1700-mile crude oil line that runs from Canada through Montana, Nebraska, Kansas and a few other states as well. It will be used to transport Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin crude oil from an oil supply hub in Alberta, Canada to points in Oklahoma and Texas.

The gym was packed with around 1,000 people with most of those people being opponents of the Keystone pipeline. The loudest cheers came from the audience when many opponents wanted the route moved away from the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer region. Many of the opponents aren’t said they weren’t totally against the idea of the pipeline, just the route of where it is proposed to be built.

One opponent, Cindy Meyers who is originally from Atkinson, said this, “I truly believe this is the most pivotal decision made in the history of Nebraska. This decision to be made by the State Department officials, who are miles away in (Washington) D.C., could well transform Nebraska into a devastating industrial wasteland.”

Not only were opinions heard from opponents but also from a few of the union workers, who will construct the pipeline if it is passed.

One of those union workers were Doug Sea, who works for Laborers Local 1140 of Omaha.

“I hope you have the confidence in our working men and women to approve this pipeline and let them get back to work”, Sea said.

Another union worker Daniel Hendrix, from Union 798 in Tulsa, Okla,, said his members where the ones who built the first Keystone pipeline as well as many others.

“We’re very familiar with how to build pipelines and we’re very good at it,” Hendrix added.

One union worker even had opponents clapping when he said, “Go ahead move the pipeline, that just means more money for us.”

It was the State Department team of Teresa Hobgood and Michael Stewart who listened intently to everyone as they made notes for their report to eventually give to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is Clinton who must make the final decision whether or not the nearly $7 billion, 1700-mile project is ultimately in the national interest and worthy of a presidential permit. Action is expected to be made at the end of this year.

If Clinton says yes, workers will begin construction by burying the 36-inch connection from Alberta, Canada, through Nebraska and other states to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. It is then predicted that operation would begin in 2013, the actual date depends on the time it takes to get necessary permits and anything else needed.

The final hearing will take place October 7th in Washington, D.C.

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Keystone Pipeline debate held smack dab in the Sandhills