The fight over a controversial oil pipeline across Nebraska is leaking into the race for Governor.
Nebraska Watchdog has learned that Governor Dave Heineman (NE-R) is taking a hands-off approach to TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, while Democrat Mike Meister wants the pipeline put elsewhere.
Two weeks ago during an exclusive interview (see video below) with Nebraska Watchdog, Heineman was asked if he thinks the pipeline is a good idea. The Governor said it’s not on his radar. “I just haven’t focused on that issue to any great extent because it’s a federal regulatory issue. So I’ve let our congressional delegation deal with that,” said Heineman.
On Thursday, Meister told Nebraska Watchdog that Heineman’s comment is “nonsense.”
Critics have complained that plans to run the pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska–one of the world’s largest underground bodies of water–would put the aquifer in jeopardy should the pipeline ever leak. TransCanada insists the pipeline is safe.
According to Meister, “It makes no sense to run it through the Ogallala Aquifer. If it leaks into the aquifer you could destroy a great portion of this state.” Meister also believes the State of Nebraska needs to be involved in regulation of the pipeline.
This Heineman-Meister dispute follows the release of two pipeline polls with two completely different conclusions.
TransCanada says its poll finds 69 percent of Nebraskans want the pipeline built while 27 percent oppose it.
According to a survey released by pipeline critic Bold Nebraska, 48 percent oppose the pipeline, 19 percent favor it, and 33 percent are undecided.
In addition Bold Nebraska weighed the pipeline’s possible political fall-out. When asked if elected officials, especially Heineman and Nebraska State Senators, should be “active and vocal” in asking questions about the pipeline the vast majority in the Bold Nebraska poll said yes. 84 percent said Nebraska’s elected officials should be very active and 57 percent said they would not vote for those officials who were not active.
Meister tells Nebraska Watchdog, TransCanada should put the Keystone XL alongside the company’s existing Nebraska pipeline. That pipeline is located further east, where it has less potential contact with the Ogallala Aquifer.
Editor’s note: to see previous Nebraska Watchdog stories on this subject click here.
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Reported by Joe Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org