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FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2011, file photo demonstrators for and against the Keystone XL pipeline gather near the state Capitol in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2011, file photo demonstrators for and against the Keystone XL pipeline gather near the state Capitol in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)  

Anti-Keystone activists push back against Nebraska pipeline route approval

Anti-Keystone activists are pushing back against the decision by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman to approve a reroute of the pipeline that avoids the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills area.

“The latest pipeline review still ignores the biggest impact of Keystone XL: climate change,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve in a statement. “The tar sands oil that would flow through Keystone XL is the dirtiest form of fuel on the planet and burning it would have a devastating effect on our planet.”

“This decision is now firmly on President Obama’s desk,” Boeve added. “Approving Keystone XL would make a mockery of the commitment he made at the inauguration to take action on climate change.”

President Obama rejected the previous pipeline route last year because Keystone’s construction threatened the Sand Hills area and potential oil spills threatened the Ogallala Aquifer. This concern has been echoed by environmental groups, as well as, the need to block Keystone to curb climate change.

“There is no route for the Keystone XL pipeline that can avoid the devastating fires, storms and droughts that will get worse because of climate change if we burn the tar sands,” Greenpeace spokesperson David Pomerantz told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email, adding that the group released a report today detailing fossil fuel projects that pose the greatest climate threats — one of them is from Canadian Tar Sands, which the pipeline will bring into the U.S.

However, in his approval letter, Heineman assured President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that TransCanada and Nebraska environmental officials told him the chances of a spill were minimal and that TransCanada would assume all cleanup responsibilities.

Heineman’s decision was met with applause from congressional Republicans and the energy industry.

“Today marks another milestone on the long and tumultuous road toward the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” reads a statement from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “This pipeline is clearly in our national interest and it is critical for our economy and our national security that it be approved immediately.”

“Another major hurdle has been cleared,” said Marty Durbin, executive vice president American Petroleum Institute, in a statement. “With the approval from Nebraska in hand, the president can be confident that the remaining environmental concerns have been addressed.”

The final decision on the pipeline lies with the Obama administration, but the State Department has said it doesn’t expect to make a decision before the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Groups on both sides have also vowed to keep the fight going until a final decision is made.

“We will continue to fight tooth and nail for this pipeline and the jobs it will create and will pursue additional legislation to ensure it is approved and built to completion,” say Energy Committee Republicans

“We’ll be at the White House with tens of thousands of people this President’s Day to make sure Obama lives up to his own words and protects us and our children by saying no to Keystone XL and the tar sands,” said Boeve.

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