Ground Zero -- Nebraska -- Offers Praise, Criticism For Keystone Pipeline Ruling

The decision from the U.S. State Department to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline project received loud applause throughout Nebraska Thursday.

Bold Nebraska, the largest pipeline opposition group, thanked President Obama for making the "right and tough decision for our land and water." Spokeswoman Jane

Kleeb said Thursday's announcement contradicts Nebraska lawmakers "who say it’s too late to put regulations in place" before another oil pipeline is built.  Kleeb said she hopes the State Department's decision will help put pressure on the state Legislature to take action now.

"It's really ironic that the folks in Washington, D.C., understand the gravity of the situation in Nebrask, even when some of our own state legislators don't seem to," added Nebraska landowner Randy Thompson, who became the face of the Bold Nebraska campaign.  "Our future generations will thank the president and hopefully will thank our state senators if they do the job they were elected to do for citizens not big corporations."

Over the past few months Nebraska has become essentially ground zero for the fight against TransCanada's proposed oil pipeline route, that stretches from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico.  Pipeline opponents argued the route put Nebraskans at risk because it would cut through a massive underground water supply known as the Ogallala Aquifer.

This fall, the U.S. State Department held public hearings on the pipleine route in every state impacted by the proposed pipeline, including two hearings in Nebraska.  Landowners and environmentalists from across the state showed up in full force at the hearings to speak out against the pipeline. Union members from Laborers' International Union of North America attended the hearings in support of the project, arguing it would create thousands of much needed construction jobs for U.S. workers.

"Environmentalists formed a circle around the White House and within days the Obama administration chose to inflict a potentially fatal delay to a project that is not just a pipeline, but is a lifeline for thousands of desperate working men and women. The administration chose to support environmentalists over jobs – job-killers win, American workers lose," LiUNA, the Laborers International Union of North America said in a statement reacting to the State Department's decision.

"The State Department should have been freed to make its decision, and then allowed the state and people of Nebraska to proceed with their concerns through the many avenues available to them. That would have been a sign of the administration’s support for jobs and a recognition that workers can’t wait until after the next election for a job. We are extremely disappointed," the group continued.