Dozens speak at Keystone XL hearing in Ralston

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-26 19:00:01-04

More than 160 signed up to speak at a public meeting in the Omaha metro regarding the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The Keytone XL pipeline remains a controversial topic across the state.

Nebraska Public Service commissioners listened to hours of testimony at Ralston Arena. Thursday marked the fourth public hearing on the pipeline's proposed route through the state.

TransCanada wants to build the pipeline from the oilsands in Canada to an existing pipeline carrying crude oil to the gulf coast. Company spokesman Matthew John says jobs and tax revenue will be a boon to Nebraska.

"It will bring in thousands of jobs, generate millions in taxes, and also transport a secure and stable supply of crude oil through North America," John said.

The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce says trade with Canada is beneficial to the region.

 "Canada is Nebraska's top trade partner," Jennifer Creager, who works in public policy for the chamber, said. "Exports from our state to Canada total $1.6 billion annually, that includes $470 million for agricultural goods. This is a stable and dependable market and this has an immense impact on communities across the state."

But, landowner Sherry Loseke is concerned about what she calls abuse of eminent domain.

"Please give landowners a seat at the table by heeding our testimony in these hearings," Loseke told commissioners. "Something that doesn't protect and advance the interest of the landowners and the citizens certainly can't serve or advance any public interest."

Omaha resident Aly Peeler says crude oil is outdated and sustainable energy efforts will shape the future.

"It's not a party issue," Peeler said. "This just has to deal with people over corporations. We need to stand with the landowners. And I also brought up the importance of how were educating our young people in the state with sustainable technologies but then we don't have that infrastructure in place. We're not investing in our future."

The Nebraska Public Service Commission will hold a more formal evidentiary hearing in August, which will include legal arguments.