Can This Group of Farmers Finally Defeat Keystone XL?
For nine years, a small army of Nebraska landowners has defended its homeland against TransCanada, the Calgary-based company intent on running its $8 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline through Nebraska so it can deliver oil from northern Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas. At times, KXL has been the national environmental issue; other times, like now, it’s lucky to make the local news, a worry only for those whose land might soon be interrupted by a 36-inch pipeline carrying heavy, viscous tar sands oil (mixed with undisclosed chemical diluents) just beneath the surface and directly atop their primary water source: the Ogallala Aquifer.
Landowners and other opposition groups have quietly gathered in courthouses and prairie churches, protested on capitol grounds and on cable TV. They’ve memorized the fact sheets: the mileage (1,179); the barrels per day (830,000); the likely number of full-time jobs in Nebraska (no more than ten); the fact that TransCanada has spent more money lobbying for this pipeline than any other utility company in Nebraska’s history (upwards of $900,000 between 2011 and 2015 alone). Some landowners have given up retirement plans to fight the pipeline full-time. More than a few have lost friends along the way.