LINCOLN, Neb. —
The law is key because it allowed the state to re-launch its review after Obama denied a federal permit for the original pipeline route last year. TransCanada was allowed to reapply once the pipeline through Nebraska was rerouted around the Sandhills.
Nebraska remains a battleground for national groups because the opposition originated with local landowners, said Becky Bond, the policy director for the San Francisco-based CREDO Action, the left-leaning advocacy arm of a cell phone company that opposes the pipeline.
"What's happening in Nebraska proves that this isn't a red and blue issue," Bond said. "Nebraska proves that this is a common-sense issue about protecting our water and our climate."
National opponents have formed a new group, the "All Risk, No Reward Coalition," which recently ran television ads in large markets, including Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and planned to air the ads Tuesday in Lincoln, Neb. The ad targets what the group calls TransCanada's poor safety record and highlights a recent oil spill in Arkansas.
Opponents say the thick, gooey oil derived from tar sands in western Canada is harder to clean up than conventional oil. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry a similar type of oil.
The Sierra Club sent emails to supporters showing video of the Arkansas spill, warning that tar sand pipelines are "disasters waiting to happen."
Terry Frisch, a landowner from the north-central Nebraska community of Atkinson, insisted a core group of Nebraska opponents — dubbed "the posse" — remains strong, but he acknowledged some landowners have moved on.
Although the line was shifted away from his property, Frisch said he remains ardently opposed because of fears the pipeline could endanger the aquiver.
"This has caused some real friendships to go by the wayside," Frisch said. "The only ones who are satisfied with it are the politicians and the ones who are bought off by TransCanada. But this is all we've got. It's all we've got. We're expected to feed the world, and this water is our lifeblood. We won't live without water."