By Michael Wunder, News Editor
The Keystone XL pipeline is spilling into just about every discussion in Nebraska these days.
During the question and answer session after his lecture, Director of UNO’s Environmental Studies program John McCarty was asked whether he thought there was an alternative to the controversial project. The professor replied that the biggest issue regarding the project is rerouting the pipeline to protect and conserve the Nebraska Sand Hills, rather than attempting to block the project completely.
“I don’t think there’s a very good alternative,” John McCarty said of the pipeline, as other countries will continue to buy oil from the Canadian tar sands, continuing a global reliance on fossil fuels.
Detractors of the project say denying TransCanada, the Canadian company proposing the project, a construction permit will influence and strengthen the United States’ and other countries’ stance on alternative energy.
TransCanada has stated they will not reroute the pipeline, but legislation recently drafted by State Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton would require pipeline builders to submit applications to the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The NPSC would have eight months to review applications.
Gov. Dave Heinemann would need to call a special legislative session in order for Dubas’ legislation to be introduced in the Unicameral. In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald Tuesday, the governor said he would do so only if convinced Dubas can amass enough votes to pass the bill.
In the interview, the governor confessed both he and state lawmakers should have reacted sooner.
“We’re very late to this game. I don’t think there is any question Nebraska should have done something years before,” he told the World-Herald.
Rerouting the pipeline away from the Sand Hills would conserve an important ecological epicenter, McCarty said.
“To me the bigger issue is that this is the last intact grassland [in the country],” he said.