Nebraska football cuts TransCanada sponsorship over Keystone pipeline

The political battle over TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline has claimed a casualty: the company’s relationship with the University of Nebraska athletic department.

The Associated Press reports that the department is ending its sponsorship agreement with TransCanada, which is seeking Obama administration approval for an Alberta-Texas pipeline that goes through Nebraska.

From the AP:

Athletic Director Tom Osborne said Wednesday that his department has taken no position on TransCanadas proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run through the state. Osborne said the pipeline has become increasingly politicized and that the athletic department avoids advertisements of a political nature.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the university is severing an agreement under which TransCanada was running ads at football games that appeared on huge video screens.

Osborne is a former Republican member of Congress from Nebraska, representing the states 3rd district for six years.

Environmentalists are pushing the White House to reject the pipeline due to greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands projects and concerns that the pipeline, if spills occur, could threaten the Ogallala aquifer that underlies Nebraska and other states.

The pipeline route faces opposition from Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) and the state’s two U.S. senators, while oil industry groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are pushing for quick approval of the $7 billion project.

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), who wants the Obama administration to approve the pipeline, told E2 on Thursday that “there is no doubt it has become political.”

“The environmental people have made it an issue in Nebraska,” he said. “Nebraska has become a battleground on fossil fuels.

“Last week at the [football] game, I was there when the TransCanada advertising sign came up. There was booing. And I am sure that probably concerned Tom [Osborne].”

Terry called the booing a “small chorus,” adding, “It wasn’t like 85,000 people booed, but I heard them.”

Asked if Osborne made the right decision to end TransCanada’s sponsorship, he said, “That’s between him and TransCanada and the athletic department.”

The State Department last month issued a finding that brought the pipeline a step closer to federal approval.