The Keystone XL Pipeline and The Sandhills of Nebraska

Photo by Michael Forsberg

I know these Hills. I have lived amongst the people of the Sandhills for over 50 years; criss-crossed this land on back roads no more than sand ruts covering thousands of miles, not a person in sight; and written a book about this ecosystem that was published by St. Martin’s Press (Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills, 1996).

I can tell you one simple fact. These hills are made of sand; they are porous. Whatever you pour onto them moves quickly through the sand and into the water table. That water table is the Ogallala Aquifer, a huge lake of water embedded in sediments below the Hills, ancient water, pure water, water that fuels the lives of people in seven states, water that attracts and sustains birds and waterfowl from all along the great Central Flyway.

The Sandhills are almost 20,000 square miles of unbroken prairie, treeless, elegant, pocked with hundreds of transient lakes, thanks to the remarkably high water table. The Ogallala Aquifer.

I know these hills, and to have a foreign corporation (TransCanada) tell people of the Sandhills that they are going to run a pipeline filled with Tar Sands oil across their land to refineries in Texas, a pipeline that will inevitably leak oil onto the Sandhills, so that that oil can be shipped overseas is simply unacceptable. It goes against everything we know to be true: you don’t take the land of US citizens for the profit of a foreign corporation, and you don’t mess with the Ogallala Aquifer.


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