A public hearing on the proposed reroute of the Keystone XL Pipeline may need to resume on Wednesday morning. That's after nearly 1,000 people showed up to offer their opinion at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Albion, Nebraska, Tuesday.
The event, hosted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, allowed affected residents to read the DEQ's findings on the to have their voices heard regarding TransCanada's proposed pipeline reroute.
Officials say the process has yielded a plan that TransCanada thinks satisfies the most people. Michael Watley, Consumer Energy Alliance: "The fact that TransCanada sat down with the state of Nebraska, has gone through a fairly extensive and lengthy conversation, and come up with a new route in order to avoid the Sandhills has really diffused a lot of tension."
But, many in attendance still don't agree with TransCanada's plan. Protesters gathered before the hearing to speak out against the pipeline. Some landowners affected by the reroute say they haven't heard enough to allay their fears. Tom Genung, Holt County resident: "The reroute constitutes no change. It's still in sandy soil and still crosses the Ogallala Aquifer. It makes no sense whatsoever."
Robert Alpress, Naper, NE resident: "They've had to many leaks already. Even if a gallon would leak into our water table down there would be too close to our place to even take the risk."
There were just as many in attendance who spoke in favor of the pipeline. Many of them touted the potential economic impact for Nebraska counties. Busloads of union workers were in attendance saying they need the jobs, have the skills, and are ready to go to work. Prima Philmalee, Union worker: "These are the types of people that are going to be working on the pipeline. We've been trained, organized and pretty much know what we're doing."
The at times tense hearing lasted for hours and featured numerous speakers ranging from pipeline officials to business owners to tribal leaders. All of them presented their own unique perspective on the Keystone XL Issue. State DEQ officials say that dialogue is what's made the process work well to this point. Mike Linder, Nebraska DEQ Director: "It's great. It's good to hear all the different sides of the issue."
Officials say they expect the dialogue to continue into the weeks and months ahead.
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