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‘Water is life’: Protesters rally as Keystone XL pipeline hearings begin

‘Water is life’: Protesters rally as Keystone XL pipeline hearings begin
Native American activists on horseback led hundreds of protesters opposing the Keystone XL pipeline in Lincoln, Nebraska, ahead of public hearings about the controversial project.

Over 500 protesters gathered outside the state capitol on Sunday, carrying signs and banners opposed to TransCanada’s pipeline project. Potential spills from the pipeline would pollute the water and soil in the Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer, activists say.

The 1,719-mile (2,766-km) pipeline is intended to deliver nearly 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta’s tar sands to a transfer terminal in Nebraska. Originally commissioned in 2010, Keystone XL was canceled by the Obama administration in 2015, after pressure from activists.

One of the first executive orders signed by President Donald Trump after taking office was to greenlight the construction of the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission now has to decide if the project is in the public interest. The hearings began Monday morning, and are scheduled to last through Friday, with a decision to be made some time in November.

The Keystone XL has been stopped before and will be stopped again, Jane Kleeb, a protest organizer with the advocacy group Bold Nebraska, said.

“There is absolutely no reason that the public service commission would grant a permit to a foreign corporation… shipping foreign tar sands to the foreign export market all for their bottom line, when that has nothing to do with Nebraska’s public interest,” Kleeb told the Lincoln Journal-Star.