Standing outside waiting for a U.S. State Department hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, rancher Todd Cone describes the water around his area in north-central Nebraska.

“It's the most pristine stuff there is,” Cone says. “No nitrates, no arsenic, no nothing in it.”

Cone and neighboring ranchers drove to Lincoln Sept. 27, for the public hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, which has become one of the most politically-charged energy infrastructure projects in the country.

The Obama administration's State Department has to approve the permit for the pipeline, which would pump about 800,000 barrels of oil from the Canadian tar sands down through Plains states to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas.

The state department has held hearings in each state, and even scheduled two for Nebraska, which has been the center of opposition.

“The biggest thing we are concerned about is the land and water contamination,” Cone says.

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