Poll: in Nebraska, ‘huskers rally against tar sands pipeline

Nebraska is many things to many people. Depending on who you ask, the Cornhusker State is “Where the West Begins,” the birthplace of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, or home to a uniquely football-mad populace. And really, speaking as an outsider, why choose just one?

Regardless, add one more to the list: it’s a hotbed of opposition to a proposed tar sands pipeline that would cross private property in Nebraska and other states and potentially imperil Americans and ecologically vital areas alike.

A new poll conducted by Zata 3 shows just 19 percent of respondents support the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil some 1,980 miles from Alberta to Texas, while more than twice as many–48 percent–want to nix the project altogether.

Joe Mendelson, National Wildlife Federation’s global warming policy director, breaks it down:

As Nebraskans see pipeline disasters around the country, it’s clear to them that there is more to lose than to gain. Taking a paltry payout from Big Oil in exchange for the big risks associated with having a ticking time bomb underground is making less sense to people.

News of the poll follows a July report from NWF that found a consistent pattern of U.S. oil and gas industry disasters “on a monthly and, sometimes, daily basis” in the last decade. Comparatively few of these incidents make major headlines, but they can carry a significant price-tag:

From 2000 to 2010, the oil and gas industry accounted for hundreds of deaths, explosions, fires, seeps, and spills as well as habitat and wildlife destruction in the United States. These disasters demonstrate a pattern of feeding the addiction to oil leaving in their wake sacrifice zones that affect communities, local economies, and our landscapes.

This industry continues to knowingly endanger its own workers, the environment, wildlife, and our communities in states across the nation.

Pipelinefire 1

Of course, the risks associated with a pipeline aren’t ‘limited’ to environmental and industrial tragedy: some Nebraskans recently received letters from oil giant TransCanada threatening to seize their land via eminent domain in order to make way for Keystone XL (Sen. Mike Johann’s (R-NE) warned the company to desist and for the moment they appear to have backed off.)

So, if you’re keeping score at home, we have a Canadian energy giant trying to strong-arm ordinary American landowners so it can build a massive, potentially dangerous pipeline that would hugely increase the amount of tar sands dirty crude coming to this country at a time when we sorely need to start chipping away at our addiction to fossil fuels. Wouldn’t you be ticked off too?

Photo: a 2007 Minnesota pipeline explosion

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Published: September 15, 2010