Heineman calls on Obama to deny Keystone permit
August 31st, 2011
Omaha, NE – Governor Dave Heineman called on President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to deny TransCanada’s permit request to build the Keystone XL pipeline today. In a letter to the President, Heineman emphasized that he is “not opposed to pipelines,” but said he is opposed to the routing of the Keystone XL pipeline “because it is directly over the Ogallala Aquifer.”
Heineman said the aquifer is a major source of irrigation for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. “Nebraska has 92,685 registered, active irrigation wells supplying water to over 8.5 million acres of harvested cropland and pasture,” he wrote. And he added, President Obama and Secretary Clinton, who have authority to grant or deny TransCanada’s permit because the proposed pipeline would cross international borders, should disapprove the permit and avoid risking “potential damage to Nebraska’s water.”
The letter is the strongest message from Gov. Heineman on the controversial pipeline so far. He has called on the Obama administration to re-examine the route previously, but he turned down the opportunity to reject the pipeline’s siting plans during the legislative session this year, saying the pipeline’s approval should fall to the federal government. Opponents of the pipeline at the time said Heineman, and the Nebraska Legislature, did have the authority to disapprove the siting plans.
U.S. Senator Mike Johanns, who has also been critical of the pipeline’s routing plans, released a statement shortly after the Governor, expressing his support. Johanns said, “The proposed route is the wrong route. It’s clear to me, after traveling throughout the state, that most Nebraskans agree a better route is needed.”