Demonstrators protest KXL pipeline on eve of crucial hearings

Aug. 6, 2017, 9:09 a.m. ·

People marching through Lincoln Sunday to protest the Keystone XL pipeline (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

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People protesting the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline filled the street in front of Nebraska’s Capitol, then marched through downtown Lincoln Sunday on the eve of a crucial hearing on the pipeline’s fate.

Traffic was blocked off on about a dozen blocks of downtown Lincoln Sunday, as people marched between the Capitol and the Cornhusker Hotel, where the Keystone XL hearings will be held. As they marched, people chanted, for example “Hey hey, ho, ho, fossil fuels have got to go.”

Before the march got underway, pipeline opponent Jane Kleeb, head of the Bold Alliance, talked to the crowd about the hearing. “The question in front of Nebraska’s Public Service Commission is ‘Is the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska’s public interest?’” Kleeb said, to which the crowd responded with a hearty “No!”

Supporters say the pipeline will bring construction jobs, tax revenue, and a secure source of oil. But farmer Art Tanderup, who doesn’t want the pipeline passing through his northeast Nebraska land, said opposition hasn’t lessened. “It is strong. And we are going to kill this snake once and for all. Let’s do it!” he said.

Among those protesting were representatives of several Native American tribes. Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Chairman Larry Wright drew a parallel between the legal process TransCanada would use to get easements from reluctant landowners, and the dispossession of Native Americans. “What does eminent domain do to these landowners that have been here for over a hundred years now? We know what it’s like to have land illegally taken away from us. We don’t want that to happen to our relatives here again,” Wright said.

After the crowd marched to the Cornhusker Hotel, people stopped to join in song against the pipeline, which would carry oil sands oil from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

“People gonna rise like the water

We’re gonna calm this crisis down.

In the words of my great granddaughter,

Say ‘Keep it in the ground,” they intoned.

This week’s hearing, and the lawsuit likely to follow any decision, will have a lot to say about whether that happens.