It's been a week since President Donald Trump signed executive orders pushing the Keystone XL forward, and pipeline fighters are rolling up their sleeves and preparing for the next battle in their war.
At a public meeting Monday at the O’Neill Community Center, the fighters focused on organizing opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“We have farmers, ranchers, progressives, environmentalists, and Native Americans all coming to fight this particular pipeline,” said Bold Nebraska president Jane Kleeb. “And it’s all really this common bond that we have with the water and protecting this land that’s been passed down through generations.”
Art Tanderup of Neligh, one of the most well-known pipeline fighters and host of the infamous "Harvest The Hope" concert in 2014, said while he and other landowners are disappointed in the turn of events, it wasn't unexpected. He said Trump laid out his priorities early, and the pipeline was among them.
Still, Tanderup said he isn't about to give up and allow the pipeline to move through his land.
"We can't jeopardize the world's largest underground aquifer and our future," he said. "This is the heartland and bread basket of nation and world. We cannot endanger that, so it's something we have to stand up and protect it."
Just like before, Tanderup said Nebraska is the state standing in the way of the pipeline. He said the Nebraska Public Service Commission process will likely take eight months to a year, but it will allow for public comments from those in favor and against the pipeline.
Ron and Jeanne Crumly of Page own land on the proposed pipeline route. Jeanne Crumly said she is sickened by the President’s order.
“It’s been a long fight and to start it all over again. It’s disheartening,” Crumly said.
When Trump talked about the "wind-swept plains of Nebraska" during his inauguration, Tanderup said that includes where the pipeline would cut through Nebraska. He said they do share "the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator."
Considering all of Nebraska's electoral votes went to Trump, Tanderup said he'd like to see the president take time from his busy schedule to see the "wind-swept plains of Nebraska" and
"Everything is focused on Nebraska and focused right here," Tanderup said. "Id like to have Tump come to the Heartland and visit with people here. Have him take a look at this what our great aquifer does and come out and see what this really is and the people involved. We're not the middle of no where where nothing matters out here."
Brian Jorde, a lawyer representing landowners, said the President’s executive order doesn’t change the rights of land owners like Crumly and Tanderup. If the pipeline is approved, he plans to fight TransCanada’s use of eminent domain on a county by county basis.
“The Constitution says that can only be done if the land is for public use,” Jorde said. “And there is no public use whatsoever for this private pipeline company’s project.”
But first, TransCanada needs to file an application and be approved by the PSC, an executive body of five elected commissioners who regulate service companies. Attendees stayed after the two-hour meeting to write letters to the PSC.
Meanwhile, the pipeline has the support of Governor Pete Ricketts and Representative Adrian Smith. They both issued statements of support, with Ricketts citing job growth and Smith saying it’s what a majority of Nebraskans want.
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News Channel Nebraska contributed to this article.
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