Hundreds Attend Final Pipeline Debate
More than 800 people descended on the small town of Albion Tuesday night to give their final peace on a pipeline debate that's lasted for three years. Many of the same arguments were heard for and against the $7 billion project.
Two men stood firm in their opposition, protecting the souls of thousands.
"I know no one here would like to have their parents or grandparents dug up," said Gordon Adams, a Pawnee archeologist and tribesman.
In the round robin, back and forth, of the pipeline debate, there's only one argument that no one can touch.
"Between Genoa and Fullerton, there couldn't be a more sensitive area having to do with our sacred sites, cemeteries and archeology sites," he said.
On Tuesday night, after the vice president of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline testified, two Pawnee tribesmen made a plea. The new pipeline route sits on top of their nation's burial grounds.
"It would be impossible to dig a trench and not come up with some sort of human remains," said Gordon. It was the first time anyone had heard that argument before, but their testimony didn't rest on those who had been put to rest.
"This land does not belong to us; we borrow it from our children," said Tom Poor Bear, Ogallala Lakota Nation Vice President. "I've never heard of a pipeline in the western hemisphere that doesn't leak."
It was emotional pleas like his, the NDEQ was asked to ignore by supporters, citing an economic impact in the millions.
"There's a logical argument an emotional argument," said Brigham McCown, a former head of the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
"In Nebraska alone over 7500 jobs will be created and jobs are critical," said former Omaha city councilman Jim Vokal. "Building the pipeline will result in more than $465 million injected into the state's economy."
The verbal war lasted hours and it will soon be on the desk of the Governor alongside a 600 page report. "We expect to receive it by the end of the year," said Heineman.
From there, the governor will decide whether or not to move it up the ladder to the State Department and ultimately President Obama.
"If we don't build it what's going to happen to all that oil," asked Joe Herring, armed with an answer. It's not going to stay in the ground he testified, saying it's going to be hauled by trains and trucks "above ground, across rivers, by rivers."
There was only one argument intact throughout the night, that came with applause.
"Whatever happens here tonight, I ask that the people and souls in line of this pipeline be considered," said Poor Bear.