Keystone Pipeline Route (image: TransCanada)

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline looks like a done deal, but this development could throw a wrench into things if it starts a movement of governors in the pipeline’s path:

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) urged President Obama Wednesday to reject a pending permit application for a controversial pipeline that would carry Canadian oil sands through his state.

In a letter to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday, Heineman stressed that he is not opposed to oil pipelines generally. But he blasted TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline because it would cross part of Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, which provides water for the state’s farmers and ranchers.

“Maintaining and protecting Nebraska’s water supply is very important to me and the residents of Nebraska,” Heineman said in the letter. “This resources is the lifeblood of Nebraska’s agriculture industry.”

Nebraska is one of the states most powerfully affected by the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed route cuts through the Sand Hills region and the Ogallala Aquifer, which carries the potential for serious environmental damage in the event of a spill. Nebraska residents have been high-profile participants in the ongoing tar sands actions in front of the White House. But I’ll bet even they never expected their Republican governor to sign on to their cause.

I can’t remember any other GOP politician coming out against the tar sands pipeline, so this is pretty unusual. I wonder what the governor in the state that’s the final destination thinks about all this. Somebody should ask Rick Perry the next time they see him. I hear he’s touring a bunch of states.

Protests continue at the White House today, where over 500 activists have already been arrested. A final decision on the pipeline is expected at the end of the year. President Obama alone has the authority to stop the pipeline, and while the State Department has given every indication that it will approve the 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to Texas, ultimately the permit application is the President’s call.