LINCOLN, Neb. – On the eve of the week-long Keystone XL pipeline hearings, opponents grabbed a sign and marched.
The protesters covered around one and a half blocks in downtown Lincoln on Sunday, heading from the capitol to the Cornhusker Marriott hotel, the site of the formal Public Service Commission hearings on the proposed pipeline, which was approved this year by President Trump.
Before the march, the protesters rallied on the steps of the capitol, with Jane Kleeb, the head of the Nebraska Democratic party and activist group Bold Alliance, leading the charge.
“If we continue to build these dirty tar-sands pipeline, we’re not going to see farming like we do right now,” says Kleeb.
From there, over a half dozen different speakers gave pep talks to the crowd, before the march began.
The thousand-plus protesters all did so in order to stop Keystone XL, which would bring tar-sands oil from Canada through Nebraska, all the way to Texas. But, the protesters wanted to stop the pipeline for many different reasons, including, the potential destruction of farmable soil, a foreign company using eminent domain on Americans and protecting the Ogallala aquifer.
“It’s a risk not worth taking, the pipeline only creates 35 permanent jobs and balance that with the risk to the Ogallala Aquifer,” says District 1 congressional candidate Dennis Crawford.
“Nebraska has the Ogallala aquifer underneath it, without the aquifer underneath it, the bread-basket of America is going to be no longer,” says protester Joye Braun.
Some came as far as Chicago and Minnesota, just to participate in the protest.
“This is sort of the last great hope we have to killing off this wretched pipeline,” says Chicago resident Ric Stuckey.
“We don’t need more oil infrastructure, it would be different if this was 20 or 30 years ago, when we had a clearly increasing demand for oil, we don’t have that today,” says protester Michael Zurakov of Chicago.
“To voice my anger and my sadness over the land that is being destroyed by this stupid pipeline,” says protester Omar Ceesay of Minnesota.
Some have been fighting this pipeline since last decade, including Sandy Harrison, who says this is the biggest anti-Keystone XL protest she’s attended.
“This particular group, this was the largest of all of them that I’ve been to, so I’m hoping that this one will give a message that says no, people are sick of it,” says Harrison.
The march was heavily protected by law enforcement, who kept the peace throughout the day, with no visible incidents.
The Public Service Commission will vote to approve or deny the pipeline by no later than November 23rd, if it passes, some marchers expect similar protests to the ones in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“It’s going to be just like DAPL, so if it does get approved, I hope they know it’s coming,” says protester Jahkeyrie Senna.