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Nebraskan Farmer Voices Opposition To Keystone XL Pipeline


York County, Neb., is on Keystone's proposed route. Jenni Harrington's family has a farm there, and the pipeline would have and could still cut through it. Jenni Harrington, welcome back to the program.

JENNI HARRINGTON: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: When you were last on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED about a year ago now, you opposed Keystone and said, we've been taught that it's our job to take care of the land; if we don't take care of our natural resources, life on this planet is going to be a short time. How do you think a pipeline buried beneath your land would've been so bad for the Earth?

HARRINGTON: Well, it's about what the pipeline is connected to. And that would be the Tar Sands development up in Alberta, Canada. It would be bringing that extracted oil from deep beneath the earth and running it, mixed in with some toxic chemicals, through our land and across our drinking and irrigation water.

SIEGEL: But hearing your first objection there, if I understand you, it isn't only about what it might do to the aquifer in Nebraska. It's just the extraction of this oil from Canada. That alone is reason that you would oppose the pipeline.

HARRINGTON: Yes. When I found out and saw pictures of the Tar Sand, I was like, oh, my gosh, that just looks like a horrific thing that's going on up there. So I did some investigating of my own. I probably spent a year of very deep reading and thinking about it and asking questions. And from all that time that I spent in gathering information, I was like, wow, this is a game changer for the planet. So it's not only about what is happening to us personally on our farm, but it's about what is going up in Canada.

SIEGEL: What do you make of TransCanada's most recent move? Do you consider it a win for you and other opponents or just a timeout in the fight?

HARRINGTON: You know, I don't think we know yet. I do know that we are going to be here. We aren't going to go away. We aren't chess pieces in a game to be moved around.

SIEGEL: But it puts you in an odd position, you and other opponents of the pipeline, because it might be favorable from your standpoint to say, no, we want you to continue to apply right now because that way, it'll be considered in what will be a less favorable political climate to the pipeline than the climate might become later.

HARRINGTON: I don't think it's fair to be this far in the process and have the company say, we don't want it to be reviewed anymore; we may, you know, want to start up again later but not right now. We've done way too much work. There's been way too many people that have given a lot of their time, and I think the process needs to move forward.

SIEGEL: How long has your family been farming this land?

HARRINGTON: My great-great-grandfather homesteaded our farm in 1861. His daughter did lose the farm during the Depression and fought to get it back and was able to buy it back 10 years later. And then it was passed on to my father and then passed on to his four daughters, and I am one of the four daughters.

SIEGEL: So when you say you're not going away, you have some pretty strong evidence to support that.

HARRINGTON: Absolutely (laughter).

SIEGEL: Well, thanks for talking with us about it today.


SIEGEL: That's Jenni Harrington, who's a Keystone opponent along the proposed route in York County, Neb. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.