Nebraskans Hope to Make a Rumble With D.C. Arrests


By Andrea Hay

Nebraskans protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington D.C. were arrested Monday; after their release on bond, their meeting with Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns' staff was cut short by an earthquake.

The pipeline is a hot topic especially in Nebraska, because the pipeline would travel through the sand hills of western Nebraska. These protestors chose now to head out to the center of the debate, because the State Department and White House have to decide if they'll grant the keystone pipeline access to Middle America.

The pipeline would travel from Canada tar sands to Texas refineries. These Nebraskans' concerns lie with travel across the Oglalla Aquifer. The official page for the two week White House protest, Tar Sands Action, said this:

"The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous--and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art' technologies that should leak only once every seven years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year."

A photographer from Shelby, Neb. said she shut down her business for several days to protest in front of the white house.

"Now knowing they've already had twelve spills, and then they want to do another one, so we're putting ourselves in double jeopardy by putting another through the aquifer? It just makes no sense. You know, we're dependent on that water to grow the fruit for the nation," said Lori Fischer, arrested for about two hours, and released on $100 bond.

Some were kept behind bars longer. The group blocked the sidewalk as they sang patriotic songs and chanted about no pipeline. They violated a rule which said they weren't allowed to block the sidewalk, and therefore were arrested.

"The people who were arrested on Saturday were actually kept until yesterday," explained Jane Wilson, member of grassroots Guardians of the Good Life: We don't know if they were just trying to send a message to discourage people from doing this or what, but it didn't work."

Wilson was another of the six arrested. "The tar sands is an issue I feel strongly about, not only because it will hurt my state of Nebraska, but because of what it will do to the planet as a whole if we allow its continued development. I'd like to be there to stand for all the people of Nebraska, to protect our precious resources -- land and groundwater -- that are so much more valuable than oil," she said.

Two with Hastings roots were present: Jane Kleeb of BOLD Nebraska left the sidewalks before police could arrest her; however, former Alcott Elementary teacher Nancy Packard was arrested.