If nothing else, environmental protestors are getting much more creative these days. From paleontologists to movie stars to Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline is getting louder. TransCanada wants to build a 1,700-mile pipeline from the oil sands developments in Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and environmentalists and some politicians want to stop it. And, that’s where the protestors have been getting creative. As far as I can remember, this is the first time that dinosaur fossils have been used as a reason for stopping pipeline construction. One paleontologist is worried that the trenching machines will grind up sections of the Hell Creek formation in southeast Montana and western South Dakota, destroying the fossil record. Of course, his company sells fossils to museums and private collectors so he may not be completely unbiased in his opinion. The TransCanada paleontologist sees the pipeline construction as a grand opportunity to uncover yet unknown fossils. Hearing nine Nobel Peace laureates in opposition to the pipeline project is unusual as well. The laureates wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject the pipeline and instead focus on renewable energy. The focus of all these protests -- from the White House to Houston -- is a 36-inch pipeline with a capacity of up to 500,000 barrels per day (b/d) that would run from Hardisty, Alberta, to Nederland, TX. The entire Keystone system, including the expansion, would have a capacity of up to 1.1 million b/d. It’s an aquifer, though, that is being used to raise the biggest opposition to the project. The Ogallala Aquifer, also called the High Plains Aquifer, covers 174,000 sq miles under eight states – South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. It is a key aquifer for both residential consumers and agricultural users. Groundwater contamination has been an issue in regards to the aquifer since the 1990s. Groundwater samples have detected traces of pesticides and nitrates from agriculture sources and livestock feedlot operations. So, there is scientific evidence of the aquifer being polluted. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska) are worried that an oil spill from the pipeline would contaminate the aquifer. Even though Heineman admitted there are a lot of other pipelines that crisscross the aquifer, this one would be the worst because the bitumen contains so many bad elements. Johanns said, “The proposed route is the wrong route. It’s clear to me, after traveling throughout the state that most Nebraskans agree a better route is needed.” Rerouting the pipeline was considered. It would add another 250 miles and $1.6 billion in cost. That would make the pipeline uneconomical. On another note, it would be interesting to see how many asphalt roads there are in Nebraska. Why? Because, asphalt is a bitumen with the same toxic elements and metals as Canada’s oil sands. I assume that would be a source of pollution as well. The aquifer is under stress, which is what makes it such a concern for Nebraska. The drawdown rate of the aquifer is far higher than the recharge rate. A lot of the multi-billion, high-plains-agricultural production depends on the aquifer. Anything that impacts that water supply is a major problem. There is even an end-of-the-pipeline protest going on in Houston. Several environmental organizations in the region are saying the oil from Canada would lead to more pollution in smog-filled Houston and impact the health of people living near the refineries. What people don’t seem to focus on is that the pipeline is not the problem. I recently moved from Denver to Houston. My car was getting 33 mpg in the city in Denver. It is now getting 20 mpg in Houston. It is now one of those smog-making devices that have nothing to do with the pipeline. The problem that needs to be addressed is the system that encourages the use of vehicles fueled by gasoline and diesel. Until that issue is solved, the consuming public is going to demand pipeline projects to bring crude oil or bitumen to the refineries to produce fuels to keep those vehicles moving. Everyone should have a vehicle that gets 33 or 40 or 50 mpg in the city. Emissions would go down quickly. After all, it was those dinosaurs that started this whole mess in the first place by dying and then turning into gas and oil. As Oliver Hardy used to say to Stan Laurel on a fairly regular basis, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”