- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

O’NEILL, Neb. (AP) - Scores of pipeline opponents in Nebraska are gathering to renew their fight against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Almost 150 people met for two hours Monday at the O’Neill Community Center, just south of the proposed pipeline route. The meeting consisted of plans to stop, delay or reroute the pipeline.

“This is a pipeline for foreign oil, made with foreign steel and for a foreign market,” Jane Kleeb, leader of activist group Bold Alliance, told the crowd.

The 36-inch-diameter Keystone XL has become a symbol of how the U.S. should tackle climate change concerns. Former President Barack Obama rejected the pipeline in 2015, but President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this month to revive it.

Kleeb said this time it’ll be farmers, ranchers and Native Americans fighting in the courts, and not politicians or national environmental advocacy groups.

TransCanada proposed to run the pipeline through Alberta, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Nebraska is currently the only state that the company still needs right-of-way easements, mainly because a core group of people who own property where the pipeline would cross has refused to sign on. Attorney for the group, Brian Jorde, said that if the pipeline is inevitable then it should be rerouted.

Although TransCanada has assured the pipeline would be the safest built, landowners Karen and Kenneth Prososki said a leak would destroy wildlife, livestock, drinking water and downstream communities.

“With all that benzene in it, it scares the hell out of me,” Kenneth Prososki said.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission said it will review evidence and comments from opponents before deciding whether to approve or deny the pipeline route. TransCanada said it will submit paperwork for review in the coming weeks, and that this route will echo the one former Gov. Dave Heineman approved in 2013.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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