Even though it could mean thousands of new jobs at a time when the U.S. is suffering from sky-high unemployment, the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline — which would bring Canadian crude to refineries on Texas’ Gulf Coast — is running into some strong opposition in the nation’s heartland.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, farmers and ranchers are worried about the pipeline’s proposed route through the Ogallala aquifer — an underground basin the size of Lake Erie that provides water to much of Nebraska and seven other states.
The pipeline company, TransCanada, claims that any spill from the line could be contained within a small area. But locals are concerned that the fast-moving underground waters would carry pollution quickly to wells miles away.
“If they have a leak, well, 40% of what’s running through that pipeline is carcinogens. So they say they’d only ruin a little bit of the aquifer. Well, a little bit’s too much. This is our lifeblood here, this water,” said Nebraska rancher Todd Cone.
On the other hand, supporters of the project in the new oil boomtowns in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota regard the pipeline as a way to get their product, as well as crude extracted from Alberta’s tar sands, to market