This blog post is written by Linda Duckworth, President of the League of Women Voters of Nebraska

As the President of the League of Women Voters of Nebraska (LWVNE) I’ve done a lot of work to share information and educate Nebraska citizens about the effects that the Keystone XL pipeline would have on our communities. I’ve attended hearings, heard testimony and testified before the State Department and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. These opportunities have helped to shape my opinion and the League’s position on this divisive issue.

There are organizations much better known for the part they play in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, but in 2006 it was actually members of the tiny Seward, Nebraska League who noticed, as observers of their local government, that a pipeline was all set to come into their area and right over their town's well head, thereby putting their water supply at risk. We used the League's strong position on clean water to draw attention to concerns about contamination of drinking water and irrigation and alerted landowners, like- minded organizations, and elected representatives about the dangers the pipeline would bring to our communities. There was a lot to learn about the impact a huge spill would have on our agricultural economy, our citizens' health, and even tourism.

I was ecstatic to play a role in the U.S. State Department’s recent hearing on the draft environmental analysis Keystone XL pipelinein Grand Island, NE. I knew that this hearing would be an excellent opportunity to listen and learn from others in my community and across the country, as well as an opportunity for me to provide a statement on behalf of the League. Tribal leaders, landowners, industry officials, labor groups and other activists from Nebraska and around the country testified on both sides of this issue. Despite the cold day in Nebraska (27 degrees), more than 100 advocates arrived at 7:00 a.m. to stand in line outside for four hours for the opportunity to testify. The crowd grew steadily as the day went on and by the time the doors were finally opened, there were approximately 700 people in line and over 300 people set to testify about the impacts that the Keystone XL pipeline would make on their lives.

The vast majority of those testifying opposed the pipeline, and I was proud to add my voice and the League’s opinion to theirs. Six hours into the hearing I had my chance to testify for three minutes. I focused on the League’s involvement with the issue and the effects the pipeline would have on climate change. To the League, “moving ahead with the Keystone pipeline would be inconsistent with meaningful action on climate change, one of the most serious threats to the environment of our nation and our world. The life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of gasoline produced from Canadian tar sands are significantly greater than those of gasoline produced from conventional sources.”

As we await a decision on whether the pipeline will be approved, LWVNE will continue to spread information and educate the public on the risks of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline proposal puts enormous and unacceptable risks on the American people. It threatens clean water and public health, makes climate change worse, and sends our nation’s energy policy in the wrong direction. In Nebraska, it threatens our way of life and we will continue to urge the U.S. State Department and President Obama to reject building the pipeline.