WASHINGTON — Retired teacher Nancy Packard doesn’t seem the type to get hauled off to jail, yet the Lincoln grandmother was being handcuffed and patted down by police officers Monday outside the White House.
Packard, 67, and five other Nebraskans were arrested as part of two weeks of daily demonstrations to highlight opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Before her arrest, Packard told The World-Herald that she wanted to send a message to President Barack Obama that a broad spectrum of the public objects to the pipeline — not just a bunch of college kids.
“We have to stop using oil and coal and start using renewable energy. We’ll do it eventually — why not do it now?” Packard said.
Lori Fischer, 54, of Shelby, Neb., said her farm is a couple of miles from the existing Keystone pipeline. She questioned the wisdom of building another pipeline through the state.
“That’s like playing Russian Roulette by putting two pipelines there,” Fischer said.
[…] Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska and other organizers talked about the need to push the Obama administration to reject a permit for the pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, crossing Nebraska’s Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer along the way.
A final environmental impact statement on the pipeline is expected soon, to be followed by additional public hearings. The State Department has said a decision on the pipeline will come by the end of the year.
Pipeline supporters say the project would boost the country’s energy supplies, bring down gas prices and foster economic development and jobs.
Opponents say that it would lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions and that potential oil spills from the pipeline would pose a danger to the aquifer.
Kleeb said Monday that whatever jobs are created by the pipeline won’t be worth anything if the aquifer is contaminated.
She also said Obama has a choice. “We can either go down a path of energy independence or we can continue to rely on foreign oil, and this pipeline puts us clearly on the path of depending on foreign oil.”