By: Ashley Harding
After years of protests, debate, and even a special legislative session, Governor Dave Heineman officially gave his stamp of approval for the new route of the Keystone XL pipeline. Heineman also wrote a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton outlining his endorsement. It's news Ben Gotschall with Bold Nebraska isn't happy to hear.
"Very disappointed about his decision. It's a major reversal of his position just a couple years ago," said Gotschall.
Governor Heineman had vehemently opposed the original route - one that took the pipeline through the Sand Hills and over the Ogallala aquifer. TransCanada officials say after long debates and a move out of the Sand Hills, they're pleased to get the endorsement they've been waiting for. Spokesman Shawn Howard say the company had listened to Nebraskans all along.
"We understand that people had concerns. We addressed the concerns by moving it out of the area that was defined as the Nebraska Sand Hills. We've shown all the extra steps and precautions that we've been prepared to take," said Howard.
Others applauding the governor's decision include "Americans for Prosperity" and U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Mike Johanns. They all say they support the possibilities for job growth and energy efficiency. Others say the new route still goes over the aquifer, and the benefits still don't outweigh the risks.
"When you talk about direct jobs, directing economic impact directly to Nebraskans, and weigh the direct risks... it doesn't add up for most people," said Gotschall.
It is now up to the president to approve the final permit to build the pipeline. Officials with TransCanada say if that happens, they hope to have it in service by the end of 2014.