The small, north-central Nebraska town of
Atkinson is bracing for big crowds at the second in-state hearing
over a hotly disputed Canadian oil pipeline project.
Residents say the Keystone XL pipeline proposal has divided the
town and is expected to generate a large showing at the U.S. State
Department hearing in the West Holt High School gymnasium. Similar
meetings are taking place this week in Montana, South Dakota,
Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
The pipeline operated by TransCanada would carry oil from Canada
to Texas refineries. Supporters say it will reduce Middle East oil
dependence and create jobs. Opponents say it will leak and
contaminate the massive Ogallala aquifer.
Bruce Boettcher, a fourth-generation rancher, says scientists
who have proclaimed the project safe aren’t as familiar with the
land as locals are.