Native American protesters concerned about pollution of ancestral lands by the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline rallied Monday outside the State Capitol.
Members of the Indigenous Council of Nebraska, the Lincoln Indian Center and a grass-roots movement from Canada called Idle No More called on President Barack Obama to resist growing political pressure and reject the pipeline. They said the project represents a threat to soil, water and the atmosphere by unleashing more greenhouse gases that many scientists have linked to global warming. .
“This is more than just a native issue. It's more than just an indigenous issue, it's an issue for everybody,” said Jessica James of Lincoln, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. .
A native drum group played and sang traditional songs as smoke from burning sage mingled with the late afternoon fog. Many in the crowd, which organizers estimated at 200 people, carried signs urging the president to reject the pipeline. .
The $7 billion Keystone XL would carry crude oil, steamed out of tar-sand deposits in Canada, approximately 1,700 miles to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The pipeline requires approval by the Obama administration because it crosses an international border..
Last week, Gov. Dave Heineman approved a new, 195-mile route for the pipeline through Nebraska. .
The Native American protesters were joined by members of Bold Nebraska, an environmental group that has long opposed the project. A Bold Nebraska organizer said the group canceled a vigil outside the governor's mansion planned for tonight..