Crowds turn out for oil pipeline hearings

By: Kali Nicole

It's a big day for protestors on both sides of the proposed pipeline.

Everyone was invited to have their opinion heard by the U.S. State Department Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds gathered inside and outside of Pershing Center in downtown Lincoln to voice their concerns about the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. The $7 billion pipeline would travel from Canada down to the oil refineries in Texas. In Nebraska, the route takes the pipeline through the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer. Opponents are worried the pipeline will burst or leak damaging the environment. However, a top TransCanada executive, Robert Jones, says improvements in pipeline technology have reduced the chance for leaks and that a direct hit from a backhoe would not puncture the pipe his company wants to build through the Sandhills.

Each side brought in experts to talk about the environmental effects.  And, each had middle class Nebraskans talk about the impact on the local economy.  One man said he's been out of work for three years, but still doesn't think the pipeline is worth an income.  A woman says she and the rest of the nation need work now.

Another Nebraska meeting is scheduled Thursday in Atkinson.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to rule on the project by the end of the year.