- Ken Ilgunas
On December 4, 2012, hundreds of Nebraskans gathered in the small town of Albion to comment on an environmental assessment of TransCanada’s proposed reroute of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
A little background:
TransCanada, the company that will build the Keystone XL, determined to place the pipeline through the fragile Sand Hills of Nebraska and the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies much of the state with drinking and irrigation water.
Nebraskans raised hell and demanded that the pipeline be moved out of sensitive areas or that it not be built at all.
TransCanada (also referred to as “Keystone”) suggested a new route on April 18, 2012. The public provided comments, and on September 5, 2012 TransCanada refined their route. The new route (arguably) dodges the Sand Hills, but still goes through the Ogallala aquifer.
On December 4, 2012, the public would have one last chance to comment on the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s (NDEQ) environmental assessment of TransCanada’s proposed reroute. Their comments will be considered by the NDEQ. After those comments are considered, the NDEQ will issue the report to Nebraska Governor Heineman, who gets the final say.
Hundreds were in attendance. There were ranchers, farmers, and landowners. Most of them were concerned about their water, and some were concerned about climate change. There were many in attendance in favor of the pipeline as well. There were large groups represented, like unions and Americans for Prosperity. They said we needed the national security, energy, and jobs.
This was a meeting of farmers before the hearing, held by a group of farmers organized under the name “BOLD Nebraska.”
A kind woman brought me water from the aquifer, which her family drinks, untreated. I filled up my water bottles with the water.
Through Facebook and local newspapers, word had spread about my little trip. When I walked in the lobby of the Boone County Fairgrounds–where the hearing was being held–someone called out, “It’s the walker!” I was swarmed, and women stuffed $70 in my pants. The pictures below were taken by photographer Adrian Olivera.