The University of Nebraska has cancelled an advertising contract with TransCanada Inc., the developer behind a proposed crude-oil pipeline that would cross Nebraska's fragile Sand Hills region, citing increased political controversy over the project.
BOLD Nebraska, a group opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline, launched an online petition last week urging Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne to drop the TransCanada ads, which were displayed on Memorial Stadium's video screens during football games. The group planned to arm hundreds of willing fans with foam "cornfingers" - with slogans reading "No Oil in our Soil" and "Stop the TransCanada Pipeline" - and stage in-game protests as the ads appeared. A TransCanada official told the Omaha World-Herald that the ads were not meant to be political but rather a celebration of Nebraska's longstanding tradition as a "pipeline" of offensive linemen.
Osborne, who represented the Sand Hills region as a U.S. congressman, cited political controversy as the reason for terminating the contract, but said through a spokesperson Friday that he was not aware of planned protests. Nonetheless, BOLD Nebraska representative Jane Kleeb told the World-Herald, "All I know is we love the decision," adding that the group has suspended "giving TransCanada the cornfinger" and stopped gathering names for its online petition.